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UK awards Leonardo final Apache AH1 support contract

17 January 2019
Seen exercising alongside British Army armoured units, the Apache AH1 will remain in service through to 2024. Leonardo Helicopters has been awarded a five-year support contract to take the fleet of 50 platforms through to this end-date. Source: IHS Markit/Patrick Allen

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has contracted Leonardo to maintain its fleet of AgustaWestland-Boeing WAH-64 Apache AH1 helicopters until their retirement date of March 2024.

The five-year support contract, announced on 17 January, is valued at GBP293 million (USD379 million) and covers 50 helicopters in service with the British Army. Work will be performed at Leonardo Helicopters' production facility at Yeovil, in southern England.

As noted by the MoD, this Apache AH MK1 [AH1] Integrated Operational Support (IOS) contract will include deep maintenance, repair, and overhaul of the AH1 aircraft as well as the provision of technical and spares support. The contract has been awarded in three tranches, with this latest investment covering the final five years of the fleet's service.

From 2022 the AH1 will be incrementally replaced in British Army service by the Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian. Over the coming years Boeing will remanufacture the AH1 helicopters into AH-64Es at its production facility in Mesa, Arizona. This process will comprise transferring a number of the existing systems (not including the engines) from the old airframes to the new ones.

With these new aircraft being bought 'off-the-shelf' from Boeing rather than being built under licence by Leonardo Helicopters, as was the case with the original AH1 procurement, it is unclear what role the UK-based manufacturer might play in their sustainment and support.

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