Thursday, April 18, 2013

South Korea Decides to Buy 36 AH-64E Apache Guardian Attack Helicopters

South Korea has decided to buy 36 Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters from the United States in a contract worth about $1.6 billion. The AH-64E was selected over the Bell AH-1Z Viper and Turkish Aerospace Industries T-129 attack helicopters.

The announcement was made by South Korea's Defense Acquisition Procurement Administration (DAPA). The AH-64E helicopters are scheduled to be delivered by 2018 over 3 years and starting in 2016.

South Korea becomes the 13th country to select the Apache attack helicopter. The previous 12 countries are Egypt, Greece, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In all, over 1800 Apache attack helicopters have already been delivered since 1984. The US Army was the first to receive the production version of the AH-64E, also known as the AH-64D Block III, in October 2011.

Taiwan is scheduled to receive the first of 30 AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters in the last quarter of 2013. There they will join the 2 existing squadrons of AH-1W Super Cobras in Taiwan.

The AH-64E incorporates 26 new technologies designed to enhance the aircraft's capabilities, including:
  • The improved drive system features a new gear transmission that increases power capacity to 3400 shaft horsepower
  • The new composite main rotor blade accommodates that power increase, resulting in improved aircraft performance with an increase in payload.
  • Integrating the new T700-GE-701D engine with the enhanced digital electronic control unit and other drive system technologies results in an increase in hover ceiling altitude at greater gross weight
The AH-64E can be armed with up to 16 Hellfire missiles, 70 mm rocket pods and Stinger air-to-air missiles. A 30 mm dual-purpose cannon with 1200 rounds of ammunition is mounted under the chin.

South Korea will also soon decide the winning bidder for the acquisition of 60 new fighter jets. The candidates in that competition are the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, F-15 Silent Eagle and Eurofighter Typhoon.

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