South Korea has selected the Boeing AH-64E Apache as its new combat helicopter, with a 36-airframe order placed on 17 April 2013 according to a statement released by DAPA: the country's Defense Acquisition Program Administration.
These 36 brand-new Apache attack helicopters will take over from the older AH-1S Cobras in current Republic of Korea Army service, with the first airframes to arrive in 2016 and the last in 2018.
In winning the South Korean Army attack helicopter contract, the AH-64E Apache - previously known as the AH-64D Block III - effectively fought off two other competitors: the Turkish Aerospace T129 and the Bell AH-1Z.
South Korean Apache Order
The South Korea Apache order comes as relations with North Korea remain extremely strained. As Yonhap news agency reported: ‘...from North Korea's standpoint, the new helicopters would be perceived as asymmetric weapons; they would become a core part of deterrence assets.'
"The heavily-armed attack helicopters will replace aging helicopters deployed by the Army to counter threats by North Korean military's armoured units and deter provocations", added DAPA representative Baek Yoon-hyeong.
No specific contract value has been announced but it's believed the cost is around the $1.5bn mark. South Korea thus becomes the AH-64E Apache's fourth customer, after the US, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan.
Boeing AH-64E Apache
The AH-64 originally emerged as a competitor (and the winner of) the US Army's 1970s Advanced Attack Helicopter (AAH) programme. Previously designated AH-64D Block III, the Boeing AH-64E Apache features composite main rotor blades, a better rotor drive system and more powerful engines than preceding variants.
The Republic of Korea Army is the ground-based element of the Republic of Korea Armed Forces. Active since 1948, it employs some 500,000 military personnel and its equipment includes 600 helicopters, 30 guided missile systems, over 2,500 armoured vehicles and more than 5,000 pieces of artillery, according to the latest-published figures.
AH-64E image copyright Boeing