First AH-64E Apache Guardian for the Netherlands

 - October 26, 2022, 5:01 AM
Q-31, the first AH-64E for the KLu, is seen at Mesa during the October 25 handover ceremony. (Photo: Boeing)

Boeing has handed over the first AH-64E Version 6 Apache Guardian to the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu, Royal Netherlands Air Force) at the company’s Mesa, Arizona factory. The Netherlands has 28 on order, with the last due for delivery in 2025. Rather than being completely new-build helicopters, the Dutch AH-64Es are remanufactured from the surviving AH-64D fleet.

“It is an honor to receive the first remanufactured Apache Echo,” said Vice Admiral Arie Jan de Waard, the director of the Defence Materiel Organization. “This updated attack helicopter is a great improvement and gives the Royal Netherlands Air Force more combat power and situational awareness. This first delivery is an important step in modernizing our entire Apache fleet.”

In 1995, the Netherlands ordered 30 AH-64Ds, which entered service between 1998 and 2002. They were used on operational deployments to Djibouti, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Mali. Two were lost in accidents. In 2018, a decision was taken to upgrade the surviving 28 to AH-64E standard, and in 2019, the U.S. Department of Defense issued a Foreign Military Sales contract to Boeing that also included the delivery of 17 APG-78 Longbow millimeter-wave fire control radars.

Although the AH-64Es utilize parts of the original airframe of the AH-64D, all of the systems are new, and the remanufactured helicopters are being issued with new KLu serials, the first being Q-31. Compared with the AH-64D, the “Echo” has more powerful General Electric T700-GE-701D engines, an upgraded gearbox, and new composite rotor blades that offer better performance and payload capacity. New landing gear is also fitted. The new digital avionics system offers greater connectivity, including Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS) datalink and the ability to undertake manned/unmanned teaming with UAVs. The sensors also have improved performance, and a new integrated self-protection system is installed.

“The Apache is the most advanced and proven attack helicopter, and demand for it continues to increase worldwide,” said Kathleen Jolivette, vice president of Attack Helicopter Programs and senior Mesa site executive at Boeing. “By upgrading from the D-model to the E-model Apache, the Royal Netherlands Air Force will gain a significant increase in attack power, versatility, and situational awareness for decades to come.”

It is expected that the first AH-64Es will be delivered to the KLu training detachment at Robert Grey Army Airfield, part of the Fort Hood complex at Killeen, Texas. The operational Apache unit is 301 Squadron at Gilze-Rijen.