Boeing received a $247 million contract to begin Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) for the U.S. Army’s AH-64D Apache Block III helicopter. The contract, signed by the U.S. government on Oct. 22, covers production of eight Apache Block III helicopters in the Lot 1 configuration. Boeing made this announcement at this week's Association of the United State Army (AUSA) conference and exhibition in Washington, D.C.
An Acquisition Decision Memorandum signed by the Department of Defense on Oct. 7 authorized the program to enter the LRIP phase to produce 51 aircraft. The first LRIP delivery is scheduled for October 2011. The Block III aircraft adds "superior flight performance and dramatically increased networked communications capabilities," Boeing said. Other enhancements include an improved drive system featuring the 701D engine, composite main rotor blades and a new split-torque face gear transmission. The Apache Block III features open systems architecture and 26 advanced technology improvements, including level 4 unmanned aerial vehicle control.
The current Army acquisition objective is for 690 AH-64D Apache Block III aircraft. The helicopters will be assembled, flight tested and delivered from the Boeing Global Strike facility in Mesa, Ariz. Tommy Filler, acting vice president, Boeing Apache and AH-6 Programs, told a press briefing on Monday at AUSA there will be a dual line assembly of the Block IIs and Block IIIs at the Mesa facility; Block II will begin transitioning over to Block III in 2013, Filler said. Filler said the company aims to achieve a maximum production rate of 10 aircraft a month. Boeing will delivery 64 Block II aircraft this year, including 13 to international customers.