Just a few Apache helicopters can make a big difference in Arizona’s export figures.
In the first quarter of this year, the Boeing Co. helicopter works in Mesa delivered eight AH-64D Apache Longbow combat helicopters to the Greek government.
Largely as a result of those sales, Arizona exports to Greece increased nearly 32,000 percent in the first quarter over the same quarter a year ago, statistics released by the Arizona Department of Commerce show. And Greece jumped from an also-ran to become Arizona’s third largest export market after Mexico and Canada and ahead of such heavyweights as China and Germany.
In 2003 the Greek Ministry of Defense ordered 12 Apache Longbows with the latest firecontrol radars, target acquisition sights and support equipment for the Hellenic Army. The the new aircraft supplement a fleet of 20 older-version AH-65A Apaches, which the Greeks put into service in 1995.
Following the eight delivered in the first quarter, the remaining four were delivered in the current quarter, completing the order, said Boeing spokeswoman Carole Thompson-Sutton.
She said the quarterly impact of future sales of Apaches to foreign countries may not be as great because they are often delivered one at a time instead of in clusters.
The Apache helicopters are assembled at Boeing’s rotorcraft manufacturing complex at McDowell and Higley roads in Mesa.
Eleven nations, including the United States, operate or have selected Apache helicopters for their defense forces. More than 1,600 Apaches of various types have been built.
Partly as a result of the Apache Longbow sales, Arizona’s total exports in the first quarter were up 23 percent compared with the same period a year ago. Total Arizona merchandise exports to foreign countries amounted to $5.3 billion in the three-month period compared with $4.31 billion in the first quarter of 2006.
The leading categories of Arizona exports were electronics, up 16.9 percent from a year ago; aircraft, up 147 percent; and machinery, up 32 percent. Arizona Department of Commerce director Jan Lesher said exports are an important contributor to the state’s economy. She cited a report commissioned by the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., that found 128,750 jobs in Arizona are dependent on trade with Canada alone. “At the end of the day it adds up to more quality jobs for Arizonans,” she said.