After nearly 30 years of service, the AH-64A- model Apache attack helo will disappear in the coming months, according to the Army's man in charge of the helo program.
The service's last 16 AH-64A-model Apaches, in service since 1984, will leave their National Guard units in May and fly to a Boeing facility where they will be upgraded to AH-64D Block II status, Col. Shane Openshaw, the Army's AH-64 program manager, told a group of reporters today at a Boeing-sponsored lunch.
What's all that mean? It means improved avionics, the D-model's Longbow milimeter wave fire control radar, better engines, new sensors, a digital cockpit, improved beyond-line-of sight communications and the ability to receive video feeds from UAVs.
Meanwhile, the service's effort to develop the Block III Apache is exceeding expectations, according to Openshaw. The Block III aircraft, which will be able to control the sensors mounted on a UAV and even have limited control over where the drone flies, is set to enter initial test and evaluation in March. If all goes well during the testing, the Army will make a decision on whether to move ahead with full-on production of the Block III in July or August.
Meanwhile, Boeing is set to respond to a South Korean RfP for a new attack chopper that drops tomorrow, and is working to sell the U.S. Army 48 Apaches that will be given to Saudi Arabia, according to David Coopersmith, Boeing's chief of attack helo programs.