The U.S. State Department approved the sale of 24 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters to Qatar at an estimated cost of $3 billion, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a release.
Qatar has requested to purchase 24 AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters, eight AN/APG-78 Fire Control Radars (FCR) with Radar Electronics Unit (LONGBOW component), 2,500 AGM-114R Hellfire missiles, and 25 Hellfire Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM), along with other equipment, spare and repair parts, support and training, the Thursday, May 9 release said.
The prime contractors will be Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Electric, Longbow, Thales, and Raytheon.
The helicopters will provide a long-term defensive and offensive capability to the Qatar peninsula as well as enhance the protection of key oil and gas infrastructure and platforms, and will allow for integration with U.S. forces for training exercises, according to the DSCA.
The proposed sale will supplement the Qatar Emiri Air Force’s previous procurement of 24 AH-64Es, which are capable of meeting its requirements for close air support, armed reconnaissance, and anti-tank warfare missions, the agency said.
The 2012 State Department approval for the sale specified 24 AH-64D Apache Block III Longbow helicopters, the AH-64E’s predecessor. Letters of offer and acceptance were signed in 2014, part of a wider $11 billion deal that included Patriot missile defense systems and Javelin anti-tank guided missiles.
Qatar received its first AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopter at a ceremony at Boeing’s Mesa plant in Arizona on March 14, Jane’s reported.
According to the Jane’s report, Qatar signed a contract for 24 AH-64E aircraft in 2016 and deliveries will be completed by May 2020. The U.S. Department of Defense issued awarded Boeing the first contract for Qatar’s AH-64Es in June 2016.
The Apache sale proposed in 2012 included Hellfire and Stinger missiles, as well as Hydra rockets for the helicopters.
In April 2018, the U.S. State Department approved a $300 million sale to Qatar of 5,000 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System guided rockets for its Apache helicopters. BAE Systems’ APKWS upgrades 2.75-inch (70 mm) rockets to a semi-active laser guided precision weapon. The system is a design conversion for Hydra 70 unguided rockets turning them into low-yield precision-guided munitions to help avoid collateral damage.
AH-64 Apache helicopters
Boeing describes the AH-64 Apache as “the world’s most advanced multi-role combat helicopter.”
It has a wingspan of 17.15 feet (5.2m) and can climb at more than 2,000 feet per minute. It features laser, infrared and other systems to locate, track and attack targets. It is capable of classifying up to 128 targets in less than a minute.
The Apache can carry a range of weapons including a 30mm automatic cannon, precision Hellfire missiles and 70mm rockets.
The AH-64E variant was designated the Guardian and features an upgraded Longbow fire control radar, more powerful engines, and advanced avionics and night-vision capabilities.
The first Guardians were delivered in 2011 and full-rate production began in 2012.
Its precedessor, the AH-64D Apache Longbow, was in service with the U.S. Army and other defense forces since the 1990s.