Major Electronics Upgrades a Key Part of the Netherlands’ AH-64D to AH-64E Remanufacture

by C. Zachary Hofer, Electronic Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

The Netherlands has received approval from the U.S. State Department for the upgrade and remanufacture of its AH-64D Block II Apache attack helicopters to the AH-64E configuration. While the contract would largely entail work on the helicopter itself, it would also include the replacement of many of the helicopters’ primary electronics systems. The overall deal carries an estimated value of $1.191 billion.

While 28 of the AH-64Ds are to be upgraded to the AH-64E configuration, only some will receive new examples of the Apache’s flagship fire control radar.  The approved request carries a requirement for 17 APG-78 Longbow fire control radars.

The Boston cream donut-shaped APG-78 sits atop an AH-64E’s rotor mast and provides the helicopter with day/night, all-weather, fire-and-forget targeting for missiles. Operationally, the radar is designed to target and track land targets, especially vehicles. However, the radar also has an air targeting mode that can provide 360° coverage of five nautical miles (8 km). The APG-78 Longbow radar carries an average price tag of approximately $3.6 million per system set.

Also detailed in the Netherlands’ approved request is a requirement for 28 ASQ-170 Modernized Target Acquisition and Designation Sights/AAR-11 Pilot Night Vision Sensors (also known as M-TADS/PNVS) – one set for each of the AH-64s. The M-TADS/PNVS electro-optical unit is installed as a ball turret on the AH-64 Apache’s nose. This configuration enables simplified replacement or repair of modules on the M-TADS/PNVS unit and provides the AH-64 with electro-optical fire control/targeting as well as enhanced performance in low-light conditions.

Depending on the extent of the upgrade, unit quantity, and the degree of software/hardware engineering required, the cost of M-TADS/PNVS can vary widely, from approximately $1.4 million to $5.7 million per system set.

An additional component known as the Modernized Day Sensor Assembly (MDSA) could also be included in the Netherlands’ AH-64 upgrades, which could drive M-TADS/PNVS prices to the higher end of the range. In the United States, the Army is purchasing the MDSA upgrade for its M-TADS/PNVS systems; an MDSA Phase 1 upgrade costs between $600,000 and $640,000 and a Phase 2 upgrade, from $2.2 million to $2.4 million.

The Netherlands’ proposed AH-64 upgrade/remanufacture would provide the country with highly capable attack helicopters for today’s battlefields. By upgrading to the latest versions of the key electronic components, the APG-78 Longbow fire control radar and the ASQ-170/AAR-11 M-TADS/PNVS, the Netherlands’ military can be assured that their helicopters will remain relevant in terms of both technology and performance for years to come.

A full set of reports on the Boeing AH-64 (both new-build and retrofit markets), the Lockheed Martin ASQ-170/AAR-11 M-TADS/PNVS EO unit, and the Longbow APG-78 radar are available from Forecast International. Please call or e-mail a Forecast International sales agent or visit our website for further details. Market intelligence is also available on our Platinum Forecast System, a breakthrough in forecasting technology that provides 15-year forecasts plus 10 years of historical data – updated on an hourly basis.

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Forecast International’s Electronic Systems Market Intelligence Services provides full reports on the ALQ-99 and the NGJ.  The Platinum Forecast System adds deeper, hourly-updated access to funding and production forecasts, as well as the system level reports.  An updated report on the ALQ-99 program was released in the March Airborne Electronics Forecast supplement.

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