Boeing Signs Deal To Rebuild Army Choppers

January 14th, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: Boeing Signs Deal To Rebuild Army Choppers

Arizona Republic (Phoenix)
January 13, 2007
By Art Thomason, The Arizona Republic
A $1.149 billion deal signed Friday to rebuild Apache Longbow helicopters at the Boeing Co.'s Mesa plant continues the facility's vital link with the war in Iraq as maker of one of America's most technologically advanced assault weapons.
Thirty of the 126 helicopters will be delivered to the United Arab Emirates, furthering the Valley's economic ties to the oil-rich country.
All of the aircraft are the AH-64D model, the latest version of the attack helicopter that American troops began training with in Kuwait in 2003 for the invasion of Iraq.
The helicopters' predecessors, AH-64A Apaches, were deployed during the Persian Gulf War in 1991. They have also been used in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and Panama.
The new contract, announced internally by Boeing, calls for its Mesa operations to convert 126 of the AH-64As to the D models, a process that means rebuilding the entire aircraft, said David Almond, block two Apache program manager for Boeing in Mesa.
"It's an incredible amount of work," he said. "The aircraft is taken down to its basic elements and built all back up again, including the painting and the airframe. It's fortunate that we have a lot of skilled labor that Boeing will retain here so we can continue to perform."
Almond said the order, which is included in President's Bush's budget, "is a continuation of the Army's trust in the performance of the Apache and a recognition that the D model is the appropriate vehicle to do the job it was set out to do."
Neither Almond nor Boeing spokesman, Hal Klopper, would link the contract with Bush's decision to send 21,500 more U.S. soldiers to Iraq.
"The government doesn't buy weapons for a particular conflict," Klopper said. "The fact that the Apache has done well says that it was the right thing. That was based on a lot of research, and it just happens that we're ready."
Almond said deliveries of the remodeled Apaches will begin in October and continue through May 2010.
The contract, including the helicopters for the United Arab Emirates, was negotiated for the U.S. Army through the Department of Defense. The deal was announced verbally at Boeing's Mesa plant in December.
Fulfillment of the contract, Almond said, will take Boeing to the next phase of the Apache's development, an even more sophisticated version of the helicopter.
The purchase by the Arab country is the latest of several business deals with Valley companies.
In December, Cold Stone Creamery executives said they were near signing a deal with a partner to bring Cold Stone to the United Arab Emirates.
Phoenix-based Honeywell Industry Solutions, a business unit of Honeywell International, received a $17 million order to increase production and improve plant safety at two oil plants in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

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