Israel seeks more Apache attack helicopters

By Arie Egozi

The Israeli air force wants to increase its inventory of Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters, directly as a result of its operational experience in the recent Operation "Cast Lead" campaign against Hamas in Gaza.

Apaches took a major role in supporting ground forces during the hostilities, by suppressing hostile fire and also performing so-called "search and kill" missions aimed at halting the launch of rockets into Israel.

The Israeli air force operates 18 new and remanufactured AH-64Ds from an almost 50-strong Apache fleet, and some of its remaining AH-64As are now candidates for upgrade to the Longbow version.

© Israeli Air Force Magazine

"The Apache proved to be the best solution for close air support in the war in Gaza, and as we see this type of confrontation in the future we want more of these excellent helicopters," says a senior air force source.

The service's "immediate" list includes four additional AH-64Ds, with others as an option, sources say.

Boeing has been urging early export operators of the Apache, including Greece and Israel, to modernise their A-model helicopters to the Block II Longbow configuration before the US Army stops supporting the legacy design. The company late last year warned that a commitment would be required before 2010 to acquire long-lead items for the work.

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