Boeing begins Moroccan Apache production ahead of 2024 deliveries

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Boeing has started manufacturing the first of 24 AH-64E Apache helicopters for Morocco at its Mesa, Arizona, facility, ahead of deliveries to the North African nation from 2024.

“By acquiring the Apache, Morocco will receive the world’s most advanced, proven attack helicopter that will enhance their defence forces for years to come,” said Christina Upah, Vice President of Attack Helicopter Programmes and senior Boeing Mesa site executive. “Boeing’s partnership with the Kingdom of Morocco spans decades, and I am proud the Apache is now part of this legacy.”

Preparations are underway at the Khouribga military base to accommodate the new Apaches, Far-Maroc reported.

Morocco in June 2020 ordered 24 AH-64Es in a deal worth $440 million, after requesting the aircraft in late 2019. The contract is expected to conclude by March 2025.

Boeing is building the new Moroccan Apaches under a contract with the US Army through the US government’s Foreign Military Sales process.

In November 2019 Morocco requested the sale of 24 new helicopters and 12 options, along with AGM-114R/L Hellfire missiles, Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System munitions, AIM-92H Stinger missiles, M261 rocket launchers, 70 mm rockets and 30 mm cannon ammunition.

The AH-64E that Morocco has ordered features an improved Modernized Target Acquisition Designation System that provides day, night and all-weather target information, as well as night vision navigation capability. In addition to classifying ground and air targets, Boeing said the Fire Control Radar has been updated to operate in a maritime environment.

Morocco has been seeking a new attack helicopter for some time. In early 2019, reports emerged that Morocco had selected the Apache over the T-129 ATAK and Bell AH-1Z. Morocco’s military has no dedicated attack helicopter, instead relying on two dozen Gazelles, which are flown by both Army Aviation and the Royal Moroccan Air Force.

Boeing said its partnership with Morocco spans decades. “Boeing is a partner of the MATIS Aerospace joint venture, which produces airplane wire bundles and harnesses. In 2016, the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Kingdom to create an ecosystem of aircraft equipment suppliers,” it said.

Morocco is also acquiring other military aviation assets from the United States, including 25 F-16C/D Block 72 fighter jets to replace the Mirage F1s it received in the 1970s, the Northrop F-5E/F Tiger IIs it received in the 1980s, and to augment and eventually replace the F-16C/Ds it received from 2011.