British Army gets its first WAH-64

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?? Serge Pod #16.03.2000 16:36

Serge Pod


British Army gets its first WAH-64 [not image]

16 March 2000

Yesterday GKN Westland delivered the first of 67 WAH-64 Apache Longbow helicopters to the British Army.

The British Army's Apache is a more potent version of the US Longbow Apache, powered by the advanced Rolls-Royce RTM322 engine, and a state of the art defensive aids suite from BAE Systems which allows it to detect enemy missile attacks and take countermeasures by firing chaff and decoys.

A British Army WAH-64 Apache Longbow
Its Longbow fire control radar gives it its main edge, allowing it to detect over 1,000 targets at once and tell the pilot if they are tanks, trucks or air defence systems. Its Hellfire fire-and-forget anti-tank missiles can strike at heavily armoured tanks from nearly four miles away, and its CRV7 rockets, built by BAE Systems, can devastate light armour or unarmoured vehicles.

Defence Secretary Geoffrey Hoon was at GKN Westland's Yeovil factory to see the first of the new helicopters rolled out. He said "Apache offers the Army of the 21st century a quantum leap in capability as significant as the introduction of the tank in the 20th century. It gives 16 Air Assault Brigade a capability which will make it the most potent combat formation for its size anywhere in Europe."

The WAH-64 will become the main anti-tank weapon in the new 16 Air Assault Brigade, at the heart of the new Joint Helicopter Command, established last October to bring together the Royal Navy's Commando helicopters, all operational Army Air Corps helicopters, and the RAF's support helicopters.

Brigadier Steven White, leading the procurement effort in the MOD said, "The new capability is comparable in significance to mechanisation in the 30 s. It creates a small force which is easily deployable with inherent capability to minimise risk.The challenge is putting together various packages tailored for different theatre requirements. Through smart procurement, we are in a very good position to do just that."

GKN Westland, prime contractor for the programme will deliver a total of 67 helicopters in a Ј2 billion programme. The first eight aircraft are being manufactured in the United States by Boeing, who hold the design rights to Apache and are the key sub-contractor. GKN Westland's production line at Yeovil for the remaining 59 aircraft opened in September 1999.

Over 180 other UK companies will benefit from the contact. Apart from Boeing the main sub-contractors are Rolls Royce Turbomeca, Bristol ( RTM 322 engine), BAe Systems, Stanmore (Defensive Aids Suite) Avimo, Taunton (optical sensors and targeting equipment; Pilkington Optronics, Glasgow, and BASE Christchurch (optical sensors and targeting equipment); Hunting Engineering, Ampthill, Shorts Missile Systems, Belfast and Royal Ordnance, Summerfield, Glascoed and Chorley (munitions).

The first aircraft are due to be delivered to the Army for flight trials at the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, Boscombe Down, starting next month. Apache's in service date, defined as the delivery of the first nine aircraft, is scheduled for December 2000, and final delivery of all aircraft is due in 2003

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