Washington: Defence contractor Boeing has begun taking informal expressions of interest from foreign clients for its state-of-the-art Block III AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. It has already been selected as the sole finalist in the Indian Air Force's tender for 22 attack helicopters.
Representatives from several foreign militaries visited Boeing's facility in Mesa, Arizona to commemorate the delivery of the first Block III Apache to the US Army, Mike Burke, director of business development for the company's attack helicopter division, said yesterday.
Upgrades to the helicopter's engine, communications and command and control systems makes Block III Apache "faster and stronger than any Apache in the past," Army programme manager, Lt Col Dan Bailey, said yesterday.
Apart from India, South Korea and Taiwanese militaries too have expressed interest in the gunship.
India had been considering the Apache and a version of the UH-1N Huey, apart from the Russian Mil-28N, for its tender. The Huey was recently dropped from consideration, leaving the Apache as the sole competitor, Burke said.
Taiwan is scheduled to get its first Block III trainer aircraft mid-2012.
Company officials plan to pitch the new Apache for South Korea's upcoming AH-X competition for a new combat chopper.
That said, Burke was confident that several international militaries "will be flying" the Apache within months.