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Israel upgrades Apache helicopters after U.S. blocked their modernization

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TEL AVIV — Israel, despite opposition from the Obama administration, has managed to upgrade its fleet of attack helicopters.

Military sources said the Israel Air Force has overseen a project to modernize its AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters.

Israeli AH-64D Apache Longbow

Israeli AH-64D Apache Longbow

The sources said the Air Force was equipping the Apaches with two new electronic warfare systems developed in the Jewish state.

“They are based on the huge operational experience of the force in using the Apache Longbow in a variety of combat scenarios,” an officer, identified only as Maj. Yonatan, said.

The upgrade has been developed amid the U.S. refusal to modernize Israel’s Apache fleet, employed in attacks on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The sources said the administration of President Barack Obama blocked Israeli efforts to modernize the Apaches or purchase new helicopters from Boeing.

The new Israeli systems were cited by the official magazine of the Air Force. The sources said the sensors underwent trials in early 2014 and would be integrated on the Apaches later this year.

The sources said the Air Force would enhance the AH-64A helicopter to D configuration. They cited such capabilities as avionics, EW and advanced munitions, including the AGM-114 Hellfire, produced by the U.S. firm Lockheed Martin.

“The upgraded Apaches now also carry several new Israeli missiles,” a source said.

The sources said the modernization, conducted in the air force base of Ramon, was also meant to ensure interoperability between the Apaches as well
as fixed-wing aircraft and ground assets. They cited communications and common digital maps of the helicopters and the Merkava Mk-4 main battle tank.

“There is now complete interoperability between the Apache with the
Merkava and other vehicles,” the source said.

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