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Boeing brings AH-64E Apache to Avalon

written by Max Blenkin | March 2, 2017

Back in 2001, Australia opted to buy the Eurocopter Tiger instead of the US Apache but now Boeing is pitching the latest generation Apache, the AH-64E, as a potential Tiger replacement.

Should Australia head down that path, it would tick many boxes – it would be a FMS purchase with aircraft produced in the same multi-year contract as the US Army which is acquiring 690 E-models out to the mid 2020s.

That would mean Australia paying around the same price as the US Army. Further, the Apache is a mature capability with more than 2,200 produced since 1984. So far 278 E-models have been delivered in the US and to international customers.


Mark Ballew, Boeing’s director of sales and marketing for attack helicopters, says Apaches have flown more than four million flight hours and more than 1.1 million combat hours.

The latest E-models are operating in Afghanistan today.

“It is combat proven and battle tested,” he said at the Avalon Airshow on Thursday.

The Army’s 22 Tigers only achieved full operational capability last April. Far from a mature capability, Tiger required substantial development which delayed its entry to service. Australian Tigers haven’t yet fired a shot in anger though French Tigers have deployed operationally to Afghanistan.


The 2016 Defence White Paper foreshadowed a replacement capability, though it didn’t specify whether that could be an upgraded Tiger or a new model.

To show off the new Apache at Avalon, Boeing flew one from the US aboard a chartered Antonov An-124 freighter.

Ballew said the E-model, though appearing identical to the D-model, offered improved speed, range, endurance and payload, better interoperability and fire control. Depending on mission requirements, the Apache can carry a lethal selection of weapons including Hellfire and Stinger missiles.

Demonstrating the improved capability to operate with other platforms, the Apache at Avalon linked to the video feed from a Scan Eagle remotely-piloted aircraft. With that capability, a Scan Eagle could watch over an enemy position for up to 16 hours, providing imagery to an Apache for a successful attack.

Ballew said the Apache would still be flying in 2060.

“We have been delivering on time and on budget since 1984. This is the most lethal, most survivable, most sustainable aircraft. It is flying around the world today,” he said.

“Boeing has a long and proud history with Australia. We have proven that we come and work with Australia. We don’t just sell aircraft and say good luck.

”You get the world’s best attack aircraft and you get long-term support from a company like Boeing and increased jobs in country. And you are going to be able to operate with all the other countries flying it right now.”
A Boeing spokesman said the AH-64E Apache could provide Australia with the industry-leading, battled-tested, armed reconnaissance and attack helicopter that the Commonwealth needs.

“With unmatched firepower, the Apache can meet virtually any mission requirement in land and littoral environments and provides aircrews with enhanced situational awareness through its integrated Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance capabilities,” he said.

“For long-term value, the AH-64E Apache’s modernisation roadmap combined with Boeing Defence Australia’s proven sustainment capabilities can keep Apaches flying well into the 2060s.”

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  • Mick181


    Look nice in Aussie Camouflage with a Kangaroo on the side.

  • Derrick


    Best value for money, proven airframe!!
    We should scrap the tiger and replace it with the Apache.

  • Capt Risky


    We should of bought these 16 years ago. A proven airframe. Not some brand new bit of tech that we need to find all the bugs in. Let the Americans, with their insane defence budget, pay for all of that and then we just buy the finished product, ready to go straight out of the box. Don’t even get me started on that air conditioned pos MRH.

  • TimC69


    Yep, definitely 30-40 of these proven platforms.

  • Mick181


    The req would be for 2 sqn of 9 ac each + trg req. Too expensive to raise, train, sustain any more squadrons than the 2 we have.

  • Jackspeak


    There are numerous contradictions in this story.
    FMS vs industry job creation- FMS is military sale from one defence force to another- minimal to no industry involvement from a design/ config management/ production- Sustainment Support.
    Apache has never been proven to operate in the littoral enviroment- this has been the US Marines Cobra’s operation enviroment.
    ARH has full operation capability- yet the next sentence contradicts, if it was given FOC then it would be mature, right????
    ARH can have operational Capability with UAV’s, French HAD Tiger have this capability.

    Old design philosphy is what killed our home grown car industry, Do we want to kill our small yet vibrant aviation industry as well by setting a precedent to accept proven design form the 70’s (alloy vs CF) in our biggest helicopter operator in Australia?

  • Tim


    Australia opted to buy the Eurocopter Tiger instead of the US Apache because the spec was for a light armed recon platform, not a flying tank. I agree we should have Apaches because they would integrate well with the 1st and 3rd Brigades but that’s a completely different specification.

  • Mick181


    The British flew Apaches off the HMS Ocean against targets in Lybia in 2011. Australia declared FOC on the Tiger with a total of 9 creavets attached, so hardly ready to fight. And the US have tested Apaches off USN ships as recently as 2014.
    By the time the new Helicopter or upgraded Tigers enter service, the Army under plan Bershiba will have 3 brigades exactly the same, each .maintained at different degrees of readiness to deploy.

  • Sydlocal


    Jackspeak, CF is not necessarily better than alloy for a battlefield helicopter. Especially from a battle damage repair perspective…

  • Adrian P


    Interesting Boeing chartered an Antonov An-124 freighter.
    Looking at their Avalon stand they had nothing about their civil airliners not even the B777 proposal for folding wings to enable a greater wingspan but utilise existing airport infrastructure..

  • TimC69



    With 3 Brigades going forward a squadron each wouldn’t be impossible. and an even split of Taipans and Chinooks we’d have 3 identical brigades/just need to increase our Abrams numbers.

    Add to that the upcoming Land 400-wheeled and tracked vehicles’ together with possible HIMARS and new general purpose vehicles and we have a competent Land force.

    People constantly talk of “affordability” , we need to look at competence in the selection process-defence acquisition more than anything… what has the Tiger fiasco cost thus far?? What did the Seasprites cost ?? Scarce defence dollars that could’ve more than equipped 3-4 squadrons of Apaches not to mention addition equipment and/or capabilities.

  • Mick181


    The Aviation assets aren’t part of the 3 Brigades, they are a seperate force and most of the money “wasted” on the Tigers would have been spent irrespective of the platform chosen, they just chose the wrong platform, always reckoned the Viper should have been chosen.

  • Bert


    Just to comment about UK apache D deployed on ship in lybia war: serviceability on day to day was far less than tiger, operated on the same ship.
    Tiger was deployed heavily in africa with success, look at the dutch deployment with their apache D…..
    Apache has different requirement than tiger so difficult to compare or blame…

  • PAUL


    Great get the Apaches & sell the Tigers to NZ to complement the rest of the NZ Rotary fleet…

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