Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) has secured a long-term training and support solution contract with Boeing Defence UK for the new fleet of Apache helicopters.
The 20-year agreement will create more than 200 jobs in the U.K., including 165 for the Army Aviation Center at Middle Wallop in Hampshire and 45 at Wattisham Flying Station in Suffolk.
More than a dozen AH-64E Apaches helicopters are undergoing test flights with the British Army. Wattisham Flying Station took delivery of 14 of the aircraft in recent months, with 36 more due to arrive by summer 2024.
With £287 million confirmed for the first period of the contract, in place until July 2025, the Long-Term Training and Support Service (LTTSS) will progressively take over from the initial support and conversion training provided by the U.S. Government under Foreign Military Sale interim arrangements. It will cover aircraft design organization services, maintenance, logistics support, plus pilot, maintainer and groundcrew training.
“Ensuring the new Apache AH-64E fleet is airworthy and ready to serve the British Army is essential, which is why we were delighted to negotiate a long-term training and support service with Boeing Defence UK as part of our Rotary Wing Enterprise involving the services, DE&S and industry,” said Keith Bethell, Director Helicopters. “There can be no doubt these impressive Apache helicopters will help the Army sustain its battle-winning capabilities in future operations.”
Keith added: “Not only will it keep the Apaches in the best possible condition for deployment, it will provide expert training for pilots and ground crew while creating long-term, sustainable jobs for industry.”
Test flights are underway at Wattisham, with initial operating capability anticipated early next year.
The Apaches have improved sensors and lethality, upgraded weapons systems and heightened communications compared to their predecessors, the Mk1s.
They boast a top speed of 300kmh (186 mph) and can detect 256 potential targets at once, prioritizing the most urgent threats within seconds, up to a range of 16km (10 miles) away.
DE&S Apache delivery team leader, Col Craig Sweeting, said: “Seeing the Apache flying today is absolutely incredible. It’s been a really long road for the team actually, so to see all that coming to fruition by both having the aircraft flying, and knowing that that long-term training and support contract is now in place we can focus now on really delivering what the customer, the Army, needs.”
Minister for Defence Procurement, Jeremy Quin, added: “There can be no doubt these impressive Apache helicopters will help the Army sustain its battle-winning capabilities in future operations. In addition to its vital defense purpose, this cutting-edge technology will create and support hundreds of U.K. jobs.”
The Army has been using the world-leading Apache capability since 2005, with the attack helicopters used in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
The Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Sir Chris Tickell KBE, said: “I am delighted at the introduction of the AH-64E into British Army service, signifying our commitment to investing in the right equipment for our people to compete and win against the threats facing the U.K.”