New state-of-the-art army attack helicopters undergo testing in Suffolk
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
Fourteen brand new military helicopters, which are some of the most advanced anywhere in the world, have begun testing at Wattisham flying station.
The AH-64E apache attack helicopter, which can reach speeds of up to 186mph, has improved sensors, upgraded weapons systems and heightened communications capability.
They are also able to detect 256 potential targets at once, prioritising the most urgent in seconds, at a range of ten miles.
Another 36 of the choppers are expected to arrive at the station by summer 2024, as part of a $2.3 billion deal with Boeing, who will maintain and support the new fleet.
Some 45 new jobs will be created at Wattisham as a result of the deal.
Defence Procurement Minister, Jeremy Quin, said: “There can be no doubt these impressive Apache helicopters will help the Army sustain its battle-winning capabilities in future operations.
“In addition to its vital defence purpose, this cutting-edge technology will create and support hundreds of UK jobs.”
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AH-64E's are already in operation with the US army and have a range of 257 nautical miles.
This programme is part of an ambition to revolutionise the country's armed forces, as set out in the government's recent Future Soldier announcement, boosting funding in military technology by £8.6billion in the next 10 years.
The deputy chief of the general staff, lieutenant general Sir Chris Tickell KBE, said: “I am delighted at the introduction of the AH-64E into British Army service, signifying our commitment to investing in the right equipment for our people to compete and win against the threats facing the UK.
“Within Future Soldier, we committed to winning the deep battle so that the close battle is as anti-climactic as possible, thereby reducing the risk to our people.
"The AH-64E is a truly world-beating capability that will, alongside other capabilities we are introducing, ensure we succeed.”
With test flights underway, the AH-64E's are expected to reach operational capability next year.