The US State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the government of Kuwait of AH-64E Apache Helicopters and related equipment for an estimated cost of US$4 billion.
The government of Kuwait has requested to buy eight AH-64E Apache Longbow Attack Helicopters and remanufacture 16 of their AH-64D Apache Longbow Attack Helicopters to the AH-64E configuration consisting of: eight AH-64E Apache Helicopters (new procurement); 16 AH-64E Apache Helicopters (remanufacture).
The proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a Major Non-NATO Ally that is an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.
The proposed sale of the AH-64E Apache helicopters will supplement and improve Kuwait's capability to meet current and future threats by enhancing Kuwait’s close air support, armed reconnaissance, and antitank warfare mission capabilities.
Kuwait will have no difficulty absorbing these helicopters into its armed forces. The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.
The principal contractors associated with this sale will be The Boeing Company, Mesa, Arizona; Lockheed Martin Corporation, Orlando, Florida; General Electric, Cincinnati, Ohio; Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors, Owego, New York; Longbow Limited Liability Corporation, Orlando, Florida; and Raytheon Corporation, Tucson, Arizona.
There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale. Implementation of this proposed sale will require the temporary assignment of approximately three US government personnel and five contractor representatives to Kuwait to support delivery of the helicopters and provide support and equipment familiarisation.
In addition, Kuwait has expressed an interest in a Technical Assistance Fielding Team (TAFT) to provide in-country pilot and maintenance training. Execution of a TAFT will require a team of 12 additional personnel (one military and 11 contractors) to be deployed to Kuwait for the period of approximately three years.
Currently there are three contenders for the LAND 4503 program, including Boeing with the AH-64 Apache, Bell Aerospace offering the AH-1Z Viper and Airbus promising enhanced reliability and capability for the Army’s existing fleet of Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters (ARH).
The Australian Army is planning to replace the current fleet of EC665 Tiger ARH from the mid-2020s, as identified in the 2016 Defence White Paper:
“The government will replace the 22 Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters with a new armed reconnaissance capability from the mid-2020s.”
LAND 4503’s program of delivery aims to support the Australian Army and is designed to contribute to the creation of the modernisation and development of a ‘networked and hardened’ Army.
The acquisition is broken down into three delivery stages, beginning with projected IOC in 2026 and FOC in 2028, including:
- Up to 24 aircraft would be based at one primary location and another five are intended at a training location. The aircraft fleet may also be co-located in one primary location; however, this is yet to be determined;
- IOC for LAND 4503 is based on a squadron of up to 12 aircraft. This organisation would be capable of generating a deployable troop of four aircraft, continued force generation of four aircraft, and an initial build-up training element of four aircraft. IOC will be supported by trained personnel and support systems; and
- FOC for LAND 4503 is based on a regiment of up to 24 aircraft. This organisation would be capable of generating multiple concurrent deployed forces of up to squadron size. FOC will also be supported by a mature training system of up to five aircraft, with trained personnel and support systems.
The government has brought the LAND 4503 Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter Replacement program forward and aims to acquire a proven and mature, off-the-shelf manned armed helicopter to deliver armed reconnaissance effects in the close and deep contested battlespace in support of the Australian Defence Force.