Friday, January 06, 2012

Taiwan first international client for AH-64D Apache Longbow [UPDATED]

The announcement confirms that Taiwan will be the first country outside the US to obtain the world's most advanced combat helicopter, whose fire control radar can locate as many as 128 targets within one minute

Taiwan has become the first country to make an international purchase of the Block III Longbow Fire Control Radar (FCR), a powerful target acquisition and prioritization system and a key component of the AH-64D Apache helicopter.

This was made official in a Lockheed Martin Corp press release on Wednesday, which stated that Longbow Limited Liability Co, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman Corp, had received a US$181 million contract from the US Army for AH-64D Apache Block III Longbow systems.

According to the press release, the contract includes the first international purchase of the Block III Longbow Fire Control Radar (FCR), for a total of 15 Block III Longbow FCR systems.

My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

UPDATE: A source close to the defense industry informs me that due to cost considerations, Taiwan has for the time being delayed purchase of the AGM-114L Hellfire missiles included in the October 2008 package. In other words, the fancy FCR capabilities will be essentially useless.

1 comment:

Michael Fagan said...

My god.

Why? It makes no sense to me for the ROC Army to have even a single AH, never mind supplementing the Cobras with Apaches.

They are designed to be tank busters, yet any PLA attack on Taiwan is simply not going to involve tanks or other heavily armoured land-based vehicles (at least not until the point where it is too late to do anything about them with mere helos since by then the PLA would already have established air superiority).

Even if we consider the Apache's infantry support role - this can be performed better and cheaper by turboprop planes, e.g. Brazil's Super Tucano. A turboprop needs little in the way of between flight maintenance (a set of screwdrivers and some other bits and pieces) but an AH is an absolute nightmare bit of kit to maintain.

Michael - really, I delight in the sheer ugliness of an AH (especially the Apache), but either I must be missing something, or the top Army brass are more than a little confused about their arses and elbows. Surely that money could and should have been spent elsewhere?