Watching for attacking: Poland buy Apache helicopters – called “magic eyes” in the air

Aerospace and defense giant Boeing secured a contract to produce 96 Apache helicopters for the Polish Armed Forces as the company scales up its manufacturing capabilities in Mesa, Arizona.

Mariusz Błaszczak, Poland’s Minister of Defense, announced September 8th that the Central European nation had selected Boeing Defense, Space & Security to be its partner for the KRUK Attack Helicopter Program, an initiative started to replace the currently “outdated, Soviet-designed Mil Mi-24 fleet.”

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Poland has heavily invested in modernizing its military. During their International Defense Industry Exhibition (MSPO), the Apache helicopters took the spotlight and were introduced by Adam Hodges, the Capture Team Lead for Vertical Life International Sales at Boeing.

The Apaches for Poland are all expected to be newly manufactured. As Hodges explained to reporters before the announcement, “there is no Apache [in the boneyard], and in Mesa we produce 80-100 aircraft per year.”

No price tag has yet been released, but a recent deal between Boeing and the Australian government for 29 AH-64E Apache helicopters came in at $3.83 billion.

Meanwhile, Boeing’s operations in Mesa have only been expanding. On September 15th, Boeing opened the 155,000 square-foot Advanced Composition Fabrication Center, a $150 million facility which will produce “advanced composite components for future combat aircraft programs”

While Boeing said they could not disclose which programs will be manufactured in Mesa, they said that their newest facility would be at “the front end of the next capabilities coming down for our warfighter.”

This deal comes as the aerospace industry continues to grow in Arizona. Leading companies, including Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Raytheon Missile and Defense, and Northrop Gruman, have expanded operations throughout the state in recent years.

Mark Gaspers, Boeing’s senior manager of governmental operations, highlighted the state’s attractive qualities, noting that “with research and university preeminence, technology clusters in areas like optics and sensors, and a large engineering workforce to grow from, Arizona has the key components for the industry’s future.”

In a statement by Boeing, the company said the Apache deal will strengthen “US-Polish military ties by enhancing interoperability and cooperation between Poland, the U.S. Army and NATO nations.”

Polish officials also applauded the deal for increasing security in the region, noting that  “such a fundamental benefit is the fact that the Polish Army is armed with modern weapons. The immediate advantage is that Poland is safe.”

The AH-64E Apaches serve as the United States Army’s attack helicopter, built to destroy enemy targets “in obscured battlefield conditions.” They are equipped with “air-to-ground missiles that can hit targets up to 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) away.” The new model features updated targeting systems and enhanced imaging capabilities.

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