Army expects expanded Apache deliveries following Boeing fix

October 1, 2018 at 4:44 PM

Boeing is expected to deliver four to six AH-64E Apache helicopters per month to the Army, following an interruption caused by a flaw in a key part to the helicopter's rotor blades.

Several helicopters were delivered in September, but after the Army stopped deliveries last February, the company has some catching up to do, according to Brig. Gen. Thomas Todd, the Army's program executive officer for aviation. 

"Ultimately, the Army expects Boeing to achieve up to eight deliveries per month and recover lost time by the beginning of [fiscal year 2020]," Todd said in a statement sent to Inside Defense Sept. 27.

The service stopped accepting Apaches due to the aircraft's strap-pack nut having a tendency to corrode and crack under stress. The flaw was found to be the cause of a fatal accident in Galveston, TX, two years ago.

Apaches were accepted from Boeing again on Aug. 31, when the company's production and retrofitting of a replacement for defective strap-pack nuts.

"Boeing met the Army-required production delivery rate for redesigned, qualified strap packs for AH-64 retrofit at a pace of no less than two Apache battalions per month," Todd said. "Upon meeting this condition as well as others agreed upon, the Army resumed accepting new Apaches into the fleet, while expecting Boeing to continue to retrofit the fleet at the same pace."

The aircraft company began replacing the nuts on Apaches in June, starting with the Texas National Guard.

"The designed enhancements were developed collaboratively between the U.S. Army and Boeing," Carole Thompson, a spokeswoman for the company, said in a Sept. 27 email. "Boeing's highest priority continues to be the safety of the warfighter and reliability of our products. The enhancements augment an already-tested and proven design."