The Australian Army’s armed reconnaissance capability will be strengthened following the selection of Boeing Apache Guardian to replace Army’s Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) from 2025. Lessons learnt from issues with the Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) ARH Tiger and other rotary wing projects had informed the strategy to seek a proven, mature ARH replacement capability. Detailed transition planning will be conducted to ensure effective management of the skilled workforce, across Defence and industry, as Defence transitions the Tiger to the Apache. The Apache was selected over a Bell/BAE Systems Australia teaming arrangement (offering the Bell AH-1Z Viper) and an Airbus offer of an upgrade to the incumbent Tiger platform. Australia will buy at least 29 AH-64Es, engines, spare parts, equipment, training devices and weapons for an estimated $4 billion.
Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said, “The AH-64E Apache Guardian is equipped with improved sensors, communications suites, attack capabilities and improved survivability. This new ARH capability will strengthen Australia’s armed reconnaissance force to better shape our strategic environment and deter actions against our national interest. Defence considered a number of helicopters against key criteria of proven ability, maturity and an off-the-shelf operating system. The Apache Guardian is the most lethal, most survivable and lowest risk option, meeting all of Defence’s capability, through-life support, security, and certification requirements. By pursuing a proven and low-risk system offered by the Apache, Defence will avoid the ongoing cost and schedule risk typically associated with developmental platforms.”
The Boeing AH-64 Apache is an American twin-turboshaft attack helicopter with a tailwheel-type landing gear arrangement and a tandem cockpit for a crew of two. It features a nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems. It is armed with a 30 mm (1.18 in) M230 chain gun carried between the main landing gear, under the aircraft’s forward fuselage, and four hardpoints mounted on stub-wing pylons for carrying armament and stores, typically a mixture of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70 rocket pods. The U.S. Army is the primary operator of the AH-64. It has also become the primary attack helicopter of multiple nations, including Egypt, Greece, Japan, Israel, Indonesia, India, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, the Netherlands, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates.