The U.S. Army has awarded Longbow Limited with a contract for the supply of mast-mounted assembly/radar electronic units for approximately $165 million, a press release by the Department of Defense confirmed.
Longbow Limited is a joint venture between the aerospace defense giants Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin which make the Longbow radars to upgrade the Apache helicopters – which are made by Boeing.
Interestingly, the whole package of the AH-64 ‘Longbow’ variant receives technologies from all three top American defense companies.
According to the release, the 2019 Foreign Military Sales (India, Morocco, Netherlands, and United Arab Emirates) funds in the amount of $164,606,754 were obligated at the time of the award.
“Longbow Limited, Orlando, Florida, was awarded a $164,606,754 firm-fixed-price contract for AH-64E helicopter mast-mounted assembly/radar electronics units. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work will be performed in Orlando, Florida, with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2022,” the release stated.
The AH-64 ‘Apache’ attack helicopter
The AH-64 helicopter, most commonly known by its nickname Apache, is one of the world’s finest and most advanced and most successful attack helicopters. It has seen extensive combat mainly in the middle east since its induction in the mid-1980s and has been upgraded to modern standards with advanced avionics and better weaponry.
The Apaches started to receive a Longbow-radar upgrade, which provides its aircrews with automatic target detection, location, classification, and prioritization while enabling rapid, multi-target engagement in all weather conditions over multiple types of terrain and through battlefield obscurants. The ‘D’ variant of the AH-64 started receiving the upgrade.
Currently, the most advanced version of the helicopter remains the ‘E’ variant. The AH-64E was designated as ‘Guardian’ to distinguish it from previous models and represent increased capabilities.
According to the sources, the AH-64E features improved digital connectivity, the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System, more powerful T700-GE-701D engines with upgraded face gear transmission to accommodate more power, capability to control unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), full IFR capability, and improved landing gear. It also has an increased cruise speed, climb rate, and payload capacity.
However, not all modern AH-64s carry the Longbow radar. The radar is able to lock multiple targets and provide targeting data to multiple Apaches/Guardians with multiple missiles, so only one or just a few Apache(s) out of the flight needs to have the radar in order to engage targets. Thus, if the mission has no need for a target designation helo, the one without the radar does the job.
The new AH-64E sports an even upgraded Longbow radar, enabling it to carry out missions in even more variable domains than its predecessors.