Poland to become world's second largest Apache helicopter operator

On September 26, 2023, Mariusz Błaszczak, Poland's Minister of National Defense, toured Boeing's facility in Mesa, Arizona. The visit included an inspection of the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter production line. This follows Poland's decision to acquire 96 Apache helicopters, a move that has been approved by the U.S. Government.

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Poland to become Worlds Second Largest Apache Helicopter Operator 925  On September 26, 2023, Mariusz Błaszczak, Poland's Minister of National Defense, toured Boeing's facility in Mesa, Arizona. (Picture source: Boeing)

Poland announced its intention to acquire 96 AH-64 Apache helicopters last year. The U.S. Government subsequently approved this acquisition as part of a Foreign Military Sale in August 2023. Heidi Grant, President of Business Development for Boeing Defense, Space, and Security, stated that the company is in the process of finalizing the sale with both governments.

Boeing has reportedly offered Poland the latest version of the Apache, the AH-64Ev6, which first flew in 2020. The upgrades include a modernized day assembly (MDSA), a laser rangefinder/designator system, a new TV sensor, a laser tracker, enhanced cognitive decision support systems, and various software and mission system upgrades aimed at increased interoperability.

The AH-64 Apache is an attack helicopter used by various countries. Poland's acquisition is expected to enhance interoperability with the U.S. Army and NATO member states. Upon completion of the acquisition, Poland will become the second-largest Apache operator in the world.

Boeing has been producing the AH-64 Apache at its Mesa, Arizona facility for over 40 years. The facility has the capacity to produce 80 Apache helicopters per year. Currently, more than 1,290 Apaches are in operation worldwide, supported by Boeing Global Services.

Formerly known as the AH-64D Block III, the helicopter was redesignated as the AH-64E Guardian in 2012. It features improved digital connectivity, the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System, more powerful T700-GE-701D engines, and upgraded face gear transmission. The AH-64E also has the capability to control unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), full IFR capability, and improved landing gear. Changes in production lots 4 through 6 include a cognitive decision-aiding system and new self-diagnostic abilities. The updated Longbow radar has an overseas capacity, potentially enabling naval strikes. The AH-64E is also equipped for maritime use and has extended-range fuel tanks for greater endurance.

This version of the Apache is noted for its efficiency, requiring less maintenance and thereby allowing for extended operational periods in conflict zones.

At present, Poland's 1st Army Aviation Brigade operates Mi-24, Mi-2, and W-3PL helicopters, which are based at the 49th Airbase in Pruszcz Gdański and the 56th Airbase in Inowrocław, as reported by Jarosław Ciślak. Recognizing the urgent need for modernization, Poland intends to acquire 96 new helicopters. Given that a standard helicopter squadron comprises 16 aircraft, this purchase would allow for the full outfitting of six squadrons. Initially, these new helicopters would be allocated to the recently established 18th Mechanized Division, mirroring the U.S. Army's practice of assigning a helicopter squadron to each of its divisions. Eventually, they could also be integrated into the existing bases of the 1st Army Aviation Brigade.