Royal Netherlands Air Force Receives First Batch of Modernized Apache AH-64Es

RNAF expects another 18 aircraft to be remanufactured with new radar systems, sensors, and increased engine power, and returned by mid-2025.

The attack helicopters upon arrival at Woensdrecht Air Base in the Netherlands. [Courtesy: Dutch Ministry of Defense]

Two Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNAF) Apache helicopters have returned to Woensdrecht Air Base (EHWO), upgraded to AH-64E variants with new radar systems, sensors, increased engine power, and modern composite rotor blades. 

The aircraft were returned to Dutch soil by a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, Boeing said Thursday.

The overhaul, completed by Boeing in Mesa, Arizona, is part of a 2019 RNAF contract with the company to remanufacture 28 of the service's AH-64 D-model Apaches to the more advanced AH-64E v6.

Royal Netherlands Air Force AH-64E Apache [Courtesy: Dutch Ministry of Defense]

"This is an important milestone for the [RNAF] and the Boeing team," said Steve Hazen, director of international attack programs at Boeing. "The E-model Apache will bring advanced attack and reconnaissance capabilities and improve combat power to the Netherlands and its warfighters."

RNAF said it expects to receive back another 18 Apache AH-64Es by mid-2025. Six of RNAF's remanufactured AH-64Es are based at Fort Cavazos, Texas, near Killeen for pilot training.

General Onno Eichelsheim, Netherlands chief of defense. [Courtesy: Dutch Ministry of Defense]

Last month, General Onno Eichelsheim, Netherlands chief of defense, visited the Apache training squadron in Texas, where he flew the "Echo" model. 

"Nearly [30] years after my training on the Apache AH-64A, I flew the Apache Difference Course for the new AH-64E. Flying has barely changed, but the combat power of the 'Echo' has been greatly enhanced,” Eichelsheim said at the time on X (formerly Twitter). "This makes this machine ready for modern conflict."

According to the military, the overhaul was necessary to "future-proof" its fleet of combat helicopters that it began operating in 1997 for nearly another three decades.

"After 20 years of intensive use, with interim maintenance and upgrades, a major modernization was necessary. This must ensure that the Apache remains operationally relevant in the coming decades," the Dutch Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

Following the delivery to Woensdrecht, the aircraft will undergo a process of system implementations and checks before being issued an airworthiness certificate. The aircraft will then undergo flight tests before they are assigned to the Defense Helicopter Command at Gilze-Rijen Air Base (EHGR).

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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