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Tuesday August 15, 2000

First UK built WAH-64 Apache delivered on time

Yeovil, UK ( GKN-Westland Press Release ) - The first production Apache built by GKN Westland Helicopters at its Yeovil facility was delivered on time to the Ministry of Defence on July 31st, two weeks after its maiden flight. The Ministry accepted the WAH-64 Apache, designated ZJ172, in accordance with the contracted delivery date established in April 1996. This significant milestone confirms that the complex UK Apache programme remains on schedule and on budget.

The first WAH-64 Apache was handed over to the British Army in April 2000 and was one of eight UK Apaches built by Boeing at their Mesa, Arizona facility and shipped to the UK for final assembly and test. Two of these aircraft have already been delivered to the British Army and a third to the Defence Evaluation Research Agency at Boscombe Down. The first UK built aircraft commenced production in Yeovil in September 1999 and was completed from a part fuselage supplied by Boeing. With GKN Westland Helicopters' own Apache line now ramping up production, ZJ172 is the first of 59 aircraft to be built at Yeovil over the next three years to satisfy the order from the Ministry of Defence for 67 Apache helicopters.

Apache Programme Director, Martin Fausset, said the delivery was yet another example of the aircraft's successful performance. "That this delivery has been achieved precisely two weeks after the aircraft's maiden flight rightly confirms that this complex and challenging contract is on schedule. However, that this first UK produced aircraft has achieved a delivery milestone set over four years ago is a testament to the teamwork and strong project management skills of all who are involved with this programme. There are more than 180 companies contributing to the UK Apache and their commitment is setting new levels of excellence in prime contracting."

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 UK's Defence Procurement Agency at Abbey Wood, Bristol. It also includes representatives from the Defence Logistics Organisation based at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton and GKN Westland in Yeovil.

The WAH-64 Apache will be the cornerstone of the Armed Forces' new Joint Helicopter Command. 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.

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.

Smart procurement delivers smart solution

Yeovil, UK ( GKN-Westland Press Release ) - GKN Westland Helicopters this week signed a near 50 million contract with the UK Ministry of Defence to supply the collective training system (CTS) for the British Army's WAH-64 Apache attack helicopters. From the start of the assessment phase in May last year to contract signature this week has taken just fourteen months, an exceptionally short procurement period for complex defence equipment.

The CTS allows up to 16 Apaches to train together to attack a representative range of targets without the use of either real or dummy munitions. The system uses a combination of a global positioning system and radio transceivers to create a radio network across a "battle area". Radio signals simulate all the Apache's weapon systems, which include Hellfire air to ground missiles, CRV-7 rockets and 30mm chain gun, and the defensive and offensive systems of the units on the ground. All participating units are linked, enabling "engagement" data to be exchanged between them.

There is also an exercise control unit which monitors and records each mission for subsequent playback and analysis. The system generates much more detailed information about system and pilot performance than more traditional training exercises and has the added advantage of being significantly cheaper and much less intrusive upon the environment.

"Smart" principles were applied throughout the procurement of the CTS, including during the assessment phase. Representatives from the user community, the Defence Procurement Agency, Apache prime contractor GKN Westland and its sub-contractors worked together to define and procure an affordable, low risk, effective solution to the Army's requirement.

GKN Westland Apache Programme Director, Martin Fausset, welcomed the speed with which the programme had been concluded. "The manner of this procurement marks a step change in previous practice. The opportunity for all parties to exchange information and discuss requirements at an early stage eliminates the false starts and unrealistic expectations that have all too often been the hallmark of defence procurements around the world. I am sure that many useful lessons can and will be learned by all those involved. From our own perspective we have identified a number of improvements in practices and processes that we will apply in future programmes of this type."

  • News: First UK built WAH-64 makes maiden flight
  • News: UK Army take delivery of the first WAH-64
  • AH-64 Apache page
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