Boeing and Bell have both positioned themselves for Australia’s attack helicopter program to replace the relatively new Airbus Helicopters Tiger ARH. The RFI was first issued on July 1st, 2019. The aim comes as Australia seeks a dedicated rotary-wing attack platform to be employed in the close air support and anti-tank roles. The two options being offered by US manufacturers are the Bell AH-1Z and Boeing AH-64E.
The Tiger ARH Australia seeks to retire was first ordered in 2004, the aircraft reached full operational capacity in 2016. The role the ARH took on was armed reconnaissance and attack. Despite the Tiger’s success, Australia seeks a heavier platform with an increased range and payload.
The AH-1Z and AH-64E both have greater maximum takeoff weights than the current Tiger with the AH-64Es being 21,000 lb, AH-1Zs 18,500 lb and Tiger being 12,787 lb. Maximum takeoff weight often reflects greater payload and range. The Australian’s also want a maritime capable helicopter for its Canberra Class landing docks. The AH-1Z is the only dedicated maritime attack helicopter on the market today. The AH-1Zs folding rotor blades allow for storage on ships and the hardened skids are good for rough landings. The AH-64E, on the other hand, offers a combat-proven attack helicopter capable of undertaking the anti-tank role.
The chosen attack helicopter will be introduced into service in 2025 and be introduced into the 1st aviation regiment. Other potential offerings could be the A-129 Mangusta or T-129 Atak.
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