First WAH-64 Apache to British Army
Westland delivered the first WAH-64 Apache, aircraft number WAH#6, to the British Army with a ceremony at Yeovil
GKN Aerospace, March 15, 2000 - Yeovil, UK - GKN Westland Helicopters achieved another key milestone today when the first WAH-64 Apache attack helicopter for the British Army was handed over in front of a distinguished audience at its Yeovil, UK factory.
The aircraft, designated WAH#6, is one of eight UK Apaches that have been built by Boeing at their Mesa, Arizona facility and shipped to the UK for final assembly and test. The remaining 59 will be delivered to Yeovil as part fuselages for completion, final inspection and test by GKN Westland Helicopters.
The Secretary of State for Defence, the Rt Hon Geoffrey Hoon, MP, was the guest of honour at the ceremony and he unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion. He was accompanied by General Sir Roger Wheeler, Chief of the General Staff, within whose command the Apache will operate in the recently created 16 Air Assault Brigade.
Mr Hoon told an audience comprising Ministry of Defence visitors, service personnel, suppliers to the programme and GKN Westland staff that he was delighted to endorse the spirit of partnership that underpinned the success of the Apache project which was on time and to budget. "I am especially pleased to be here to witness the successful endeavour between GKN Westland and its team of sub-contractors that has produced the Apache you see here today.
"The procurement of this aircraft is a ringing endorsement of this government's commitment to providing our armed forces with the most modern and dynamic equipment available. The Ministry of Defence's Defence Procurement Agency and the prime contractor, GKN Westland Helicopters, have been working in close partnership to deliver this important new capability for the Armed Forces. I congratulate them on a fine project well done."
GKN plc Chief Executive Sir CK Chow, and Richard Case, Chief Executive of GKN Westland Helicopters hosted the event. In his introductory remarks Sir CK Chow stressed the symbolic nature of the event for GKN. "This event symbolises the tremendous progress GKN Westland has made in recent years," he said.
"In 1998, eight new aircraft left this site. In 1999, output had reached 25 and in 2000 we plan to produce 50 new aircraft of which 9 will be the first British Army Apaches. The remaining aircraft will follow during 2001, 2002 and 2003. The company is now one of the world's foremost manufacturers of military helicopters and is rightly proud of its capability as a prime contractor. It is a great achievement."
Sir CK Chow praised the valuable contribution from all suppliers by adding: "The success of this programme has only been possible thanks to the spirit of partnership that we enjoy with our suppliers. Among our guests today are many without whom this aircraft project would not have been possible. Many are smaller companies within the supply chain which make their own essential and valued contribution. They represent all that is good in the UK aerospace industry."
The Apache project was one of the first to form an Integrated Project Team, a key element of the MoD's Smart Procurement initiative, in November 1998. The 70-strong team is based in the Defence Procurement Agency at Abbey Wood, Bristol, UK and Huntsville, Alabama, USA. It also includes representatives from the Defence Helicopter Support Agency based at RNAS Yeovilton and GKN Westland in Yeovil.
The WAH-64 Apache will be the cornerstone of the Armed Forces' new Joint Helicopter Command which will be responsible for 16 Air Assault Brigade. Created as part of the Strategic Defence Review, the Joint Helicopter Command will focus the joint capabilities of the three Services and enhance the operational effectiveness of the battlefield helicopter. 16 Air Assault Brigade replaced 24 Airmobile Brigade as one of the formations assigned to NATO's Multinational Division (Central) which will be called into action for peacekeeping operations around the world.
Apache's in-service date, which is defined as the delivery of the first nine aircraft, is scheduled for December 2000. Apache will greatly augment the operational effectiveness of the British Army on the battlefield. It will provide a massive increase in capability both in terms of firepower, communications and supportability.
WAH#1 has completed engine integration trials in the US to qualify the Rolls-Royce RTM322 engines which will power the British aircraft in preference to the General Electric T-700 powerplants fitted to the US versions of the aircraft. WAH#2 and WAH#4 are being used to train GKN Westland test pilots and Army Air Corps instructor pilots prior to the commissioning of the UK Apache training centres in the second quarter of 2000. WAH#3 is currently completing the final stages of its logistics trials. WAH#5 is in the USA undergoing Helicopter Integrated Defensive Aids Suite (HIDAS) trials. WAH#6 was delivered on March 15 2000 and features a full instrumentation fit for data gathering. WAH#7, which will be the first UK produced Apache, and WAH#9 are in build at Yeovil. Delivery is scheduled for last quarter 2000. WAH#8 is being prepared for introduction to in service training.