Apache Longbow Support Contract

The MoD (via Agusta Westland) has awarded a $96m contract to Longbow International for the support of the Apache AH Mk1 fire control radars out to 2019 i.e. 5 years.

Apache Helicopter
An Apache helicopter from 4 Regiment, 656 Squadron Army Air Corps, during live firing training at Otterburn Ranges in Northumberland. Photographer: Peter Davies from www.defenceimages.mod.uk

$20m per year, or £12m.

[browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/news/press-releases/2014/march/mfc-031204-longbow-international-receives-support.html”]

Not cheap are they?

News out yesterday also mentions the possibility of the UK scrapping the AH.1 and buying in new Apache AH-64E’s to replace some of them.

 

 

 

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TED
TED
March 21, 2014 12:40 pm

Much speculation on PPRUNE about possible E numbers. Some saying likley around 18-20 i.e. Merlin fleet size. Excuse me sir! If the crabs can afford 60 Chinooks, why can’t we afford to buy sufficent numbers of AH to protect them?

Please sir, can we have some more if we don’t want Wildcat?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
March 21, 2014 12:50 pm

Wow… Speculating with those numbers, add availability in the field… And you get one sqdrn ( a mini one).

mike
mike
March 21, 2014 1:11 pm

Thats pricey, for the radar suystem, not the entire aircraft.

Oh dear, E’s with D’s? Unlikely. Fleets within fleets.

Would fewer Apaches with well armed Wildcats work? The US Army normally has one longbow equipped apache that sends data to the rest of the flight when engaging targets.

Topman
Topman
March 21, 2014 2:00 pm

@ TED

It seems the pongos have other priorities…

Elm Creek Smith
Elm Creek Smith
March 21, 2014 2:56 pm

Going from 66 to 18-20? Why bother? Just hang a guy out the door of a Merlin with an RPG, why don’t you? Again, someone in the UKG needs to decide if the BA/RAF/RN is going to be prepared to play with the big boys or be Barbados (no offense to the Babadosians).

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
March 21, 2014 3:15 pm

@ECS – The approved point of comparison in these parts is “Belgium”…much the same sentiment though… :-)

GNB

Jackstaff
Jackstaff
March 21, 2014 3:31 pm

@ECS,

It’s “Bajans”, as in a slurring of ‘badians (for Barbadians) in a Windwards accent. No fault at all in your part just handy trivia if you’re ever living the “It’s Five o’clock Somewhere” experience in that part of the world:)

@GNB,

Indeed, although classically trained Metropolitan English inverse snobbery leads us down the wrong path in such comparisons. Per capita, if Barbados were UK-sized the Forces would have about 350,000 personnel, likewise Belgium would have a fleet of c. 360 combat jets (though getting long in the tooth) and the army an entire airborne division…

@TED,

You’ve said it all in the very first comment. And now that thread a while back about being forced to make do with Wildcats looks prescient…

Pab
Pab
March 21, 2014 3:49 pm

If we did drop to 18-20 Es, at least we could purchase more in the future pretty easily to boost numbers.

This would allow us to retain the capability, save some cash and then increase numbers if/when we have money or the desire for more.

TED
TED
March 21, 2014 4:04 pm

@Pab

Firstly we won’t. Secondly you can’t just magic up Apache pilots. Thirdly we wont!

NOt talking fleets within fleets. I should think this would be 66 down to 20 odd. Which quite frankly is just a joke isn’t it?!

Pab
Pab
March 21, 2014 4:18 pm

@Ted
the UK’s Apache fleet was massively more expensive than US OTS items, maintaining the UK fleet must cost more due to our non-standard Apaches.

Was there not some report out recently that stated helicopters taking up a huge percentage of the Army’s budget?

Not saying it’s a good idea, but if we purchased 18-20 US Apache block III then we could use their logistics and support systems more effectively. It would probably be cheaper in the long run to do so. We can then (hopefully) purchase more block IIIs when we have the finances and this will be easier to do so than the customised fleet we have. But as you said, we probably won’t!

Perhaps we are starting to realise that operating a small fleet of customised and expensive items is not good VFM?

P.s. is there a web link with more info on dropping down to 20?

Peter Elliott
March 21, 2014 4:29 pm

The unanswered questions about what happens after 2020 include the industrial strategy for Westland.

Will any new AH64E be assembled in the UK? Its surely cheaper to take them straight from the US Line, even if we still request UK specific equipment fits?

Tom
Tom
March 21, 2014 4:43 pm

PE – AgustaWestland are not as desperate for the work as Westland was when Apache was first being brought. My guess that we would buy the E models off the US line, with Yeovil retrofitting UK spec radios, flotation gear, etc.

Mark
Mark
March 21, 2014 4:49 pm

I think it’s a gd idea these are retained.

http://www.janes.com/article/32844/british-army-wants-ah-64e-apache-before-end-of-decade

In terms of numbers, Brig Sexton said that he does not expect any AH-64Es to be procured as one-for-one replacements for the Apaches currently in service (67 were purchased, with one lost on operations in Afghanistan), adding “but we don’t need that”. The most likely scenario will see the most costly systems on the current AH.1 aircraft – the M-TADS (targeting system), the fire control system, and the engines – being refitted into newly built airframes, with the equipment left over providing a ready-made pool of spares.

TED
TED
March 21, 2014 5:18 pm

18-20 very much speculative I think I highlighted that. What you say is all correct but if we only get a few then I don’t think we will ever see more aircraft added. It will be a case of “well you’ve been fine up until now.” If we trickle bought them alongside the Ds being stood down I think that could work.

The speculation comes from PPRUNE just google it and click military aircrew.

9 Apaches is p*ss poor for just escroting SH in a counter insurgency like Afghan its sh*t if your looking at actually fighting someone.

Brian Black
Brian Black
March 21, 2014 6:24 pm

It would be of passing interest to be able to read the context of the 18-20 Apache speculation, now that it’s been mentioned.

Probably pulled from thin air, I guess. But even if it were based on something of a plan, the number could be a transitional number – a first buy, or the number of airframes the AAC has worth upgrading, or something.

Have to question the value for money if numbers went that low, while still retaining the infrastructure for the aircraft type.

If the USAF succeeded in getting rid of their A10, how do those flying hours compare against Apache E on cost? Or against Typhoon even, as they’re quite capable of medium altitude bombing too.

Topman
Topman
March 21, 2014 6:40 pm

@ BB

The numbers I last saw, Apache is very expensive. Costwise somewhere between Tornado (£36k) and Typhoon(£90k). I think it was £50-60k/hr for Apache. Numbers might not be exact, but they are ball park.

Elm Creek Smith
Elm Creek Smith
March 21, 2014 7:29 pm

Boeing is providing 82 AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters to the United States Army for $1.2 billion. There will be 10 new build helicopters and 72 remanufactured helicopters in the deal. Cost per helicopter works out to $14,634,146.34. Unless the UK is getting screwed on the price…

http://www.militaryaerospace.com/articles/2014/03/ah64e-helicopter-contract.html

Brian Black
Brian Black
March 21, 2014 8:27 pm

That is a fair whack, Topman.

Helicopters’ tend to have shocking availability too, when compared to fixed-wing aircraft shifting comparable payloads, so you also need to buy more of the things in the first place.

Cheaper fixed-wing aircraft could do much of what Apache does, and much of what our high-end jets have ever been called on to do.

Not the cheapest option, and I don’t know how many A10 the Americans have, but they could potentially end up dumping hundreds of perfectly good aircraft onto the second-hand military market. Even if the eastern-Europeans picked up a few to ward off the Rooskies, I bet we could get a good deal on a package of aircraft and spares.

TED
TED
March 21, 2014 8:38 pm

@BB here we go again. Apache is an intimate air support aircraft that can self designate targets. Fast air cannot. I think you are right though the way of warding off Ivan has to be A10 or Apache. Who was saying we don’t need a tank busting capability?

18-20 is very much a couple of blokes guesses on a website. I don’t know how I can make that clearer! I am just reacting to that.

Elm Creek Smith
Elm Creek Smith
March 21, 2014 8:50 pm

“The Apache Helicopter was deployed in substantial numbers during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Critics claimed that the performance of the helicopter would be unacceptably low were proven wrong. Instead, it achieved a readiness rate about 90 percent. ”

http://www.usmilitaryhelicopters.org/boeing/ah-64-apache-helicopter-history

The problem with A-10s from a readiness rate is that they are elderly as combat a/c go and, if you don’t have a/c in the system that use some of the same parts (e.g. F-15 landing gear), you may not get as many spares as you might need.

Don’t think I’m a Warthog hater! I’m a retired US Army armor officer and think the A-10 is the answer to ground troops’ prayers. The problem is that the zipper-suited thundergods of the USAF fighter mafia have always hated the Warthog.

Topman
Topman
March 21, 2014 9:14 pm

@ BB

Yes they are pretty expensive far more than people think. Not sure about it’s availability. A10 not sure they are all they are cracked up to be. TBH I’ve had little to do with them, those I know that have don’t think they are the be all and end all.

Rocket Banana
March 21, 2014 10:03 pm

Apache in Desert Storm:

652 sorties, 1173 kills

This was over 274 Apache (11 squadrons of 24-25) and most of the offensive sorties were undertaken over a couple of weeks. So… Generally each Apache managed 2.38 sorties every two weeks. Or one sortie every 5.88 days!

I think this is what lead to somewhat of an upgrade as their availability was shocking and the 30mm gun kept jamming. Add to that the 1000 hellfire, 3700 rockets, and 98000 rounds of 30mm needed to score the 1173 kills and you can see why they’re so expensive :-(

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
March 21, 2014 11:07 pm

– Barbados it is then – 100,000 in the Royal Navy, 175,000 in the Army and 75,000 in the RAF…I could live with that…and by an odd coincidence the Napoleonic Navy which ultimately won that war and dominated the world had about that number…no Carriers of course, but at least their Ships took aboard as much ordnance as they could carry…

…and cutlasses :-) What’s not to like?

GNB

Brian Black
Brian Black
March 22, 2014 11:44 am

I’ve seen that 90% readiness rate for Apache quoted many times, ElmCreekSmith, but still don’t know what it means.

Presumably you’d have 100% readiness if they never flew anywhere. Just kept the tyres inflated and the oil topped up.

Does that figure mean Apache only achieved 90% of what it was supposed to do? That 10% of the times it was meant and expected to take off, it didn’t?

Does it mean that all flying and maintenance only accounts for 10% of Apache’s time in theater?

Fed24
March 23, 2014 3:46 pm

The solution that Boeing has proffered is to buy new AH-64E but cannibalise the AH.1 for transferable parts and assemblies.

Fedaykin

Simon
March 23, 2014 7:35 pm
Reply to  Fed24

Even so, I’d expect there wouldn’t be a 1:1 replacement.

How many do we really need? 20? In order to generate a squadron of 12 for the lead battlegroup?

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
March 23, 2014 7:45 pm
Reply to  Simon

But the planning assumptions are for a brigade on enduring ops and an all out effort of 30,000, are they not?

Simon
March 23, 2014 8:06 pm
Reply to  Simon

How many Apache squadrons do we currently have? 3 or 4?

Fed24
March 23, 2014 8:17 pm
Reply to  Simon

I have heard talk of around fifty, personally I am happy with that if we get Block III. Gutting the AH.1 and getting effectively brand new Apache seems a very good deal to me. By reducing the numbers moderately we get a nice large pool of spares to keep them going for years.

accattd
accattd
March 23, 2014 8:31 pm
Reply to  Simon

Regiments? AAC

I’d like to know if there is any modularity in their supporting kit that would naturally break them into threes or fours while on the ground. Some dispersal is never a bad idea, exc. For an increased force protection overhead.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
March 23, 2014 8:33 pm
Reply to  Simon

2 regiments under army 2020, so 6?

TED
TED
March 23, 2014 10:17 pm
Reply to  Fed24

50 I could cope with. As I said before the old system got ditched how come the crabs get 60 Chinooks whilst the Army will probably not get enough funding to escort them.

Enigma
Enigma
March 23, 2014 10:48 pm
Reply to  TED

You don’t need apache to escort chinook certainly not all the time or on a 1 to 1 basis. In any event chinook is quite a bit faster than apache.

TED
TED
March 23, 2014 11:23 pm
Reply to  Enigma

I’m just going off what wokka drivers are saying and in Afghan most are quoted as saying they wouldn’t go anywhere without them. No you don’t need it but also they dont just do escort.

I was more drawing attention to the fact that the grabs get 60 chinook whilst everyone else just has to make do with smaller fleets

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
March 24, 2014 1:10 am
Reply to  Simon

For COIN Operations maybe – for anything more serious (which might be the next war that comes along) the original conception of a full scale air-mobile Brigade with the punch delivered by two regiments of Apaches sounds much more sensible to me

Fed24
March 24, 2014 1:56 am
Reply to  TED

Well A’Stan has rather distorted the situation. Beyond next year it is an academic point. We will be out of that particular theatre of operations and Chinook escort will no-longer be needed for peace time operations.

The current AH.1 are escorting the Chinook that are still in theatre beyond that I don’t think it is unreasonable for the Chinook fleet to be bigger then the Apache fleet.

We need to put Afghanistan beyond us, there is little public desire to get involved with that kind of operation so future procurement shouldn’t be distorted by that operational anomaly.

East_Anglian
East_Anglian
March 26, 2014 4:22 pm

The DS solution is to tag our 60 odd upgrades onto the back of this. I’m sure the US Army would be delighted if we could bring the unit price down.