The Boeing Co. said Monday it has signed a $276.4 million contract with the U.S. Army to build 18 Apache Longbow combat helicopters to replace machines shot down or damaged in Iraq and elsewhere since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
The latest contract brings to 45 the number of newly built Apaches ordered by the Army to replace helicopters lost in combat or accidents.
The new machines will be built to AH-64D standards, which is the modernized version being built by the company at its Mesa assembly operations.
The “D” model contains improved radars and other enhancements not included in the original AH-64A model.
Also, Boeing had signed contracts to remanufacture 96 of the Army’s existing AH-64A Apaches into AH-64Ds. In January, the company announced a $1.15 billion order from the United Arab Emirates, a pro-Western Arab country, to upgrade 30 of its “A” model Apaches to “D” model standards.
The war-replacement work along with foreign orders will carry the Mesa plant to 2011, when Boeing is scheduled to deliver the first of a third generation of Apaches to the U.S. Army.
The third generation, called Block III Apaches, will contain further technology improvements developed in the past few years.
The interim contracts “will keep our staff well engaged,” said David Almond, Apache program manager, eliminating the need for major layoffs.
The company has already remanufactured 501 U.S. Army Apaches to the “D” model configuration. They were rebuilt between 1997 and 2006 under two five-year contracts.
EAST VALLEY EMPLOYEES: 4,400
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5000 E. McDowell Road, Mesa
WHAT IT DOES: Major aerospace and defense contractor. Makes Apache Longbow attack helicopters in Mesa; Apache repair, aircraft modification and structural repair work at Williams Gateway Airport in Mesa; and satellite operations in Chandler.