ST. LOUIS, July 11, 2008 -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA], U.S. Army leaders, supplier representatives and other guests celebrated the first flight of the AH-64D Apache Block III helicopter this week in Mesa, Ariz. Just prior to a ceremony attended by more than 300 people at the company's Apache production facility, the aircraft was flown by two Apache-rated aviators -- U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard Cody and an Army experimental test pilot, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Rucie Moore.
"This milestone is a testament to the tremendous team effort of Team Apache -- the U.S. Army, our worldwide industry suppliers and Boeing," said Al Winn, Boeing vice president of Apache Programs. "The technologies incorporated into the Block III helicopter come from a cross-section of the best of industry."
Experimental test pilots -- one U.S. Army soldier and one Boeing teammate -- initially flew this Block III prototype aircraft over the Arizona desert on June 27 in preparation for today's ceremony, which commemorates the success of engineers, production teams and program managers in keeping the Apache Block III program on time and on budget.
Ensuring the continued relevance of this rotorcraft platform for the warfighter, Apache Block III technologies deliver network-centric communications capabilities, extended ranges for sensors and weapons, unmanned aerial systems connectivity and control, and enhanced aircraft performance. The Block III technologies have been successfully tested and matured through a planned process of continuous modernization used since the delivery of the first AH-64A model to the U.S. Army in January 1984 and throughout the deliveries of AH-64A Apaches and AH-64D Apache Longbows to the Army and the defense forces of 10 nations around the world.
"Built upon a legacy of success, the Apache Block III will deliver mission-critical performance capabilities to U.S. Army aviators, facilitating successful operations across the spectrum of conflict," U.S. Army Apache Project Manager Col. Derek Paquette said to Boeing teammates who worked to build the helicopter.
The Army awarded Boeing the first Apache Block III contract in June 2005. In accordance with contractual milestones, Boeing plans to begin Low Rate Initial Production in April 2010 and to deliver the first production AH-64D Apache Block III in June 2011.