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Sunday, May 1, 2011

First Block III Apache Off the Lines in October; End of Apache As in Sight

By Andrew Drwiega, Military Editor

Boeing Apache press conference at Quad-A.

The first Block III Apache will officially roll off Boeing’s Mesa, Ariz. production line at the end of October, while the final Block II aircraft is set for completion during 2013. There are now only 40 Apache A models remaining that need to be converted to Apache Ds and the budget to do this has been signed-off, meaning the entire U.S. Army fleet, including the Reserve.

Lt. Col. Dan Bailey said that the company believes the Block III will be the biggest international seller and in total, the company expects to turn out around 690 Block III Apaches.

Lt. Col. Hank Taylor, who returned from Task Force Saber in Afghanistan three weeks ago, confirmed Boeing’s claim of 80 percent readiness rate and said that maintenance had been incredible this year.

The Apache on display at Quad-A was fitted with a trialing Ground Fire Acquisition System, which Col Grady King, TRADOC Capabilities Manager, Attack Helicopters, said could “detect, classify and geo-locate ground fire.” Sensors are located in a box at the end of each wing stub and can cover 360 degrees below the aircraft: “It is a highly accurate flash detector,” he said.

According to King, it has so far been flown in a test environment but will be fielded in August with a hopeful deployment next year, as it is not a currently a program of record.

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