LONDON – The Royal Netherlands Air Force has become the first to receive the newly upgraded AH-64E version 6 Apache from Boeing.
As part of Foreign Military Sales through the U.S. Department of Defense, Boeing received a contract in 2019 to upgrade every 28 RNLAF AH-64D to the more advanced AH-64E v6 models. The end target for the final delivery is set for 2025.
“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.”
The Dutch have operated the D-model of the Apache since their introduction in 1998. Deliveries of the newer E-models represent the next step in the long-term partnership between Boeing and the Netherlands.
Apaches continue to be an important element in European defense and are currently being operated by several European nations other than the Netherlands, such as the United Kingdom and Greece.
“It is an honor to receive the first remanufactured Apache Echo. 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,” said Vice Admiral Arie Jan de Waard, the Director of the Defense Materiel Organization.
Features and improvements
The AH-64E Apache is the most advanced multi-role combat helicopter for the U.S. Army and a growing number of global defense forces. To date, more than 500 AH-64E model Apaches have been delivered worldwide. The AH-64E features:
- Advanced digital connectivity
- Joint Tactical Information Distribution System
- More powerful T700-GE-701D engines with upgraded face gear transmission to accommodate more power
- Capability to control unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)
- New composite main rotor blade
The Dutch AH-64E v6 will be equipped with new hulls, transmissions, and rotor blades. The power of the engines will be increased, and the aircraft will get better mission equipment. For example, the current AH-64D fleet is being modernized to the AH-64E.
The Apache has been in use by the armed forces since 1997. Modernization is necessary in order to remain operationally relevant in view of the current threat developments.
Despite the improvements already made, Apache has operational and technical limitations in its current configuration. These will increase further in the coming years.
The number of users of the AH-64D version continues to decline. This makes support and maintenance very expensive because the production of parts, repair, and maintenance become very expensive.
By participating in the modernization program, Defense will soon have modern, future-proof, and affordable combat helicopters.
The upgrades are also part of the USAF and Boeing’s effort to improve for the future, making them future-proof combat-ready by developing new techniques and innovations that will support them and their partnering nations to be ready.