Wattisham/UK: Apache helicopters to be upgraded or replaced

MINISTERS must decide whether to upgrade some or all of the British Army’s fleet of Apache helicopters.

Despite the success of the aircraft on the frontline, the American-made AH-64D will become redundant in 2017 as a new AH-64E model comes into production.

As a result the Government must now decide whether to upgrade some or all of Britain’s helicopters – including Suffolk gunships based at RAF Wattisham – or replace them outright.

Defence chiefs and Army officers are finalising their assessment of the technical options in an exercise entitled the Apache Capability Sustainment Programme, or AH CSP.

Officials are due to present ministers with a list of detailed options in the New Year, with final decisions expected in 2014.

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A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: “This upgrade will ensure the capability remains in service out to 2040. The number of aircraft to be upgraded as part of this programme will be based on an assessment of the future operational requirement and will be decided at the main investment decision point, which is currently planned for 2014.”

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