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Boeing commences production of Apache Helicopters for Morocco

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…with deliveries set for 2024

Tulani Ngwenya

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA – In a significant development, Boeing has initiated the manufacturing process for the first batch of 24 AH-64E Apache helicopters bound for Morocco. The production is underway at Boeing’s Mesa, Arizona, facility, signaling the commencement of a pivotal phase leading up to the scheduled deliveries to the North African nation in 2024.

Christina Upah, Vice President of Attack Helicopter Programmes and senior Boeing Mesa site executive, commented on the milestone, stating, “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. Boeing’s partnership with the Kingdom of Morocco spans decades, and I am proud the Apache is now part of this legacy.”

Preparations are already in progress at the Khouribga military base to accommodate the incoming Apaches, according to a report by Far-Maroc.

Morocco’s order for 24 AH-64Es, valued at $440 million, was confirmed in June 2020 following a request for the aircraft in late 2019. The contractual obligations are anticipated to be concluded by March 2025. Boeing is fulfilling this order under a contract with the US Army through the US government’s Foreign Military Sales process.

The November 2019 request from Morocco included not only the 24 helicopters but also 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 upgraded Modernised Target Acquisition Designation System of the AH-64E model that Morocco ordered provides day-and-night, all-weather target information and night vision navigation capabilities. Boeing highlights updates to the Fire Control Radar, enabling operation in maritime environments while classifying both ground and air targets.

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Morocco, in need of a dedicated attack helicopter, opted for the Apache in early 2019 over alternatives like the T-129 ATAK and Bell AH-1Z. Currently relying on two dozen Gazelles flown by both Army Aviation and the Royal Moroccan Air Force, the addition of the AH-64E signifies a significant leap in Morocco’s aerial defence capabilities.

Boeing emphasised its enduring partnership with Morocco, citing involvement in the MATIS Aerospace joint venture, which produces aeroplane wire bundles and harnesses. In 2016, Boeing signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Kingdom to establish an ecosystem of aircraft equipment suppliers.

Furthermore, Morocco is expanding its military aviation assets from the United States, with plans to acquire 25 F-16C/D Block 72 fighter jets. These aircraft will replace the Mirage F1s received in the 1970s and the Northrop F-5E/F Tiger IIs received in the 1980s, as well as augment and eventually replace the F-16C/Ds received in 2011.

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