WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department has greenlighted a possible sale to Morocco of Boeing-manufactured AH-64E Apache attack helicopters worth an estimated $4.25 billion, according to a Nov. 20 Defense Security Cooperation Agency announcement.
The agency has notified Congress, which will weigh in. If lawmakers clear potential deal, negotiations will begin between the country and the supplier, during which the price and quantity are subject to change.
Morocco is requesting 36 Apaches after announcing its intention to purchase the American-made helicopters in 2018. The country was considering both the AH-64 and the Turkish-made T129 ATAK helicopter.
The pending deal includes 24 new Apache helicopters with an option for 12 more, as well as 79 T700-GE-701D engines and 36 AN/ASQ-170 modernized target acquisition and designation/AN/AAR-11 modernized pilot night vision sensors, plus fire control radars, radar electronic units and onboard capabilities for manned-unmanned teaming.
The country plans to buy 551 AGM-114R Hellfire missiles and 60 AGM-144L Hellfire missiles, 588 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System kits, and AIM-92H Stinger missiles.
Earlier this year, the State Department cleared a possible $3 billion sale to Qatar for 24 AH-64Es.
The only other African country to purchase AH-64Es is Egypt. The State Department approved that possible $1 billion deal at the end of 2018.
Boeing builds the AH-64E at its Mesa, Arizona, production facility. Lockheed Martin, which manufactures some of the Apache’s subsystems like the target acquisition and designation and night vision sensors as well as Hellfire missiles, will perform the work at its facility in Orlando, Florida.
The U.S. Army last year ordered Boeing to stop work on its AH-64E production line and refused deliveries of the aircraft until the company redesigned the strap pack nut — which holds the bolts that hold the rotor blades onto the helicopter — after discovering issues with it in the field.
Defense News first broke the news of the issue, which has since been resolved. The Army resumed accepting AH-64E helicopters from Boeing at the end of August 2018, and service hopes to finish retrofitting the entire fleet of U.S. government and Foreign Military Sales aircraft by next month.
Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.