For the first time, Boeing will hire Australian companies to supply parts for its AH-64E Apache Suppliers will provide components for new Apaches including Australia’s future fleet of 29 Apaches. Australian companies Cablex and Thomas Global Systems respectively will manufacture cabling, and design and manufacture cockpit avionics components for the global fleet of Apaches. For the Australian fleet of Apaches, four companies – Cablex, Ferra, Axiom Precision Manufacturing and Mincham – were selected to supply wire harnesses, electrical panels, vertical spar box, machined parts, fairings and composites. The supplier contracts are part of an agreement signed by Boeing and Defence Australia at the Avalon 2023 Australian International Airshow.
“Defence has worked diligently with US Army, Boeing and local industry to ensure we are providing the best capability for the Australian Defence Force. We look forward to continuing to work together through this agreement signed today to seek further opportunities for local industry involvement in both the production of Australia’s Apaches and the broader global fleet product and support activities,” said Major General Jeremy King, Head of Defence’s Joint Aviation Systems Division.
“By partnering with the Australian government and investing in local businesses including small-and-medium enterprises, this agreement will help create jobs, develop Australia’s aerospace and manufacturing capability, and grow the local economy,” said Kathleen Jolivette, vice president and general manager of Boeing Vertical Lift.
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 AH-64 has significant systems redundancy to improve combat survivability. The U.S. Army is the primary operator of the AH-64. It has also become the primary attack helicopter of multiple nations.
In July 2019, Australia issued a request for information for Project Land 4503 to replace the Army’s Eurocopter Tiger ARH helicopters. On 15 January 2021, the Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds announced that the AH-64E had been selected to replace the Tiger ARH. A fleet of 29 AH-64Es will be acquired with a planned initial operational capability of 12 helicopters in 2026 and full operational capability in 2028. The RFI called for 29 helicopters, with 24 to be based at a single location with two operational armed recon helo squadrons, and a five for training Army pilots and battle captains at the Australian Army Aviation Training Centre at Oakey, Queensland. The two operational Tiger squadrons are currently based in Darwin in the Northern Territory as part of the 1st Aviation Regiment.