Bangladesh has confirmed the selection of the AH-64E Apache as the country’s attack helicopter of choice after a broader request to the US to acquire advanced equipment, including multi-role combat fighters, surface-to-air missiles and lift helicopters.
Boeing has confirmed the down-selection made by the Bangladeshi government, which will see the south Asian country participating in a foreign military sale program with the US government.
Bangladesh will acquire the latest AH-64E variant of the venerable Apache attack helicopter, which is flown by the US and 15 other countries and has recorded more than 4.5 million flight hours with the US Army alone. There are currently 1,180 Apaches in service today.
During a media briefing, Boeing's Terry Jamison, senior manager for global sales and marketing for attack and cargo helicopter programs, explained, "[In Bangladesh] we have been down-selected not just based on capability, but we went head-to-head with some of our competitors and we were down-selected based on price."
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.