Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Britain awarded a $379 million contract to Leonardo Helicopters to support the country's existing fleet of 50 Apache attack helicopters through 2024.
Defense Minister Stuart Andrew made the announcement Thursday during a tour of the company's plant in Yeovil, where some of the work on the AH MK1 will take place.
"The Apache has provided years of crucial battlefield support to U.K. and coalition troops in operations in Libya and Afghanistan," Andrew said in a statement. "This multi-million-pound contract will ensure our armed forces continue to benefit from this vital capability as we integrate the latest Apache model into service in 2022."
The Apache AH MK1 Integrated Operational Support contract will maintain the fleet until the model's service ends in March 2024. That includes deep maintenance, repair and overhaul of the MK1 aircraft, as well as the provision of technical and spares support.
The new Apache AH-64E aircraft model sensors and avionics are improved and "that will enable the Army to sustain its battle-winning capabilities in future operations," according to a military news release.
Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Longbow International will continue to help deliver support services for Apache AH MK1 helicopters, Leonardo said in a news release.
"This latest multi-million-pound investment in the existing Apache fleet not only demonstrates our positive collaboration with industry in achieving value for money, but also ensures that these battle-proven helicopters remain in-service and readily available for the British Army until their out of service date," said Graham Russell, Leonardo Helicopters' director of defense equipment and support.
Leonardo also provides support and training services for the U.K.'s AW159 Wildcat and AW101 Merlin helicopter fleets.