Boeing has began production of 24 AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters for the Moroccan armed forces.
Boeing announced on 13 November of this latest development. The Boeing AH-64 Apache is a US-made attack helicopter, it features a nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems. Armed with a 30 mm (1.18 in) M230 chain gun and four hardpoints mounted on stub-wing pylons a mixture of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70 rocket pods.
The AH-64E Guardian Block III (AB3) is an upgraded version incorporating 26 key new-technology insertions covering flight performance, maintenance costs, sensors & electronics, and even the ability to control UAVs as part of manned-unmanned teaming (MUT).
Work began at the Mesa facility in Arizona some three-and-a-half years after the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract was signed for an undisclosed value in June 2020. Deliveries are to begin in 2024.
According to the US State Department approval for the procurement, Morocco’s new Apaches will be armed with Lockheed Martin AGM-114L/R Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, BAE Systems Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) laser-guided rocket kits and more than 5,000 70 mm rockets, and Raytheon AIM-92H Stinger air-to-air missiles. Defensive countermeasures were also included, as was Manned-Unmanned Teaming-2 (MUMT-2) equipment for the on-board control of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Morocco initially requested for 36 airframes for $4.25 billion.
Rated as one of the most lethal combat helicopters since it came into operation in 1989, the Apache is presently operated by the US, United Kingdom, Israel, Greece, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Netherlands and Japan.
In 2021, the Royal Moroccan Air Force (RMAF) sent pilots and aircraft technicians for training in flight and maintenance of the AH-64E Apache combat helicopters due to be delivered to Rabat in 2024.
Leading provider of jet and turboprop engines General Electric Aviation will supply T700 turboshaft engines for the new fleet of Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopters. Part of the business will see General Electric delivering 48 T700-701D engines and two spare parts for the 24 Apaches set to be supplied to Morocco.
Also, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman joint venture Longbow Limited Liability Company (LBL) was awarded a contract to supply AN/APG-78 Longbow radars for Morocco’s Apache Guardians.
The Royal Moroccan Air Force (RMAF), which operates all of the military’s aviation assets, does not currently field a dedicated attack helicopter. The 24 Aérospatiale SA342L Gazelle helicopters it currently operates in the light attack role were procured from 1978 and is in need of replacing.
Morocco is acquiring the Apaches as part of a wider equipment procurement programme. The North African country is revamping its combat aviation capabilities, also procuring the latest variant Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70/72 Fighting Falcon to replace the Mirage F1s it received in 1978, the Northrop F-5E/F Tiger IIs it received in 1980, and to augment and eventually replace the F-16C/Ds it received from 2011.