SINGAPORE — Saudi Arabia has signed a deal with the U.S. that will make it the launch customer for Boeing’s AH-6i light attack helicopter.
Boeing executives briefing reporters on Feb. 13 ahead of the Singapore Airshow, which opens here Feb 14, said the two sides had inked a letter of acceptance (LoA) for 36 helicopters.
“The [LoA] deal with the AH-6i is done. It was signed a few weeks ago,” said Mark Kronenberg, the vice president of international business development at Boeing Integrated Defense Systems.
With the LoA in place, Boeing and Saudi Arabia can begin final contract negotiations regarding issues such as price and delivery schedules.
The AH-6i was part of a $60 billion Saudi shopping spree for U.S. weaponry, including fighter jets and helicopters such as the Apache AH-64D, unveiled in late 2010.
The largest part of the purchase was completed in 2011 when a nearly $30 billion contract was signed by Boeing to equip Saudi Arabia with 84 new F-15SAs and upgrade 70 fighter jets already in service in the Gulf kingdom.
Having signed a memorandum of understanding in 2010, Jordan was expected to be the launch customer for the AH-6i. Kronenberg said the deal had not gone away but budget pressures had intervened.
U.S. special operations forces already operate an earlier version of the helicopter.
The upgraded machine was heading for the Singapore Airshow, but Boeing opted to take the helicopter back to the U.S. for minor modifications ahead of a flight demonstration for the U.S. Army’s Armed Aerial Scout requirement, Kronenberg said.
Kronenberg said that even though the AAS program’s future remains questionable, Boeing had been assured the Army would proceed with the demonstration, targeted for June or July.