Boeing has handed over the first upgraded version of the AH-64E Apache attack helicopter to the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF).

The new AH-64E or version 6 (v6) upgrade includes enhanced weapons performance, improved sensors and the latest software.

In February 2018, the US State Department approved a $1.191bn foreign military sale (FMS) to upgrade the RNLAF’s existing fleet of 28 D-model Apache rotorcraft to advanced v6 or E configuration.

Following the approval of this FMS, the US Department of Defense (DoD) awarded a contract to Boeing in 2019 to provide required upgrades to the RNLAF’s 28 D-model helicopters.

Netherlands Defence Materiel Organisation director vice-admiral Arie Jan de Waard said: “This updated attack helicopter is a great improvement and gives the RNLAF more combat power and situational awareness.

“This first delivery is an important step in modernising our entire Apache fleet.”

Boeing is anticipated to deliver the final remanufactured v6 Apache helicopter to RNLAF by 2025.

The company said that the successful delivery of all the helicopters will also mark a significant step towards establishing a long-term partnership between the company and the Netherlands.

The RNLAF is operating the AH-64D Block II Apache attack helicopters since 1998.

Apart from Dutch military forces, Apache aircraft is also in service with 17 international military customers, including several European allied nations and the US Army.

Boeing Senior Mesa Site executive and Attack Helicopter Programme vice-president Kathleen Jolivette said: “The Apache is the most advanced and proven attack helicopter, and demand for it continues to increase worldwide.

“By upgrading from the D-model to the E-model Apache, the RNLAF will gain a significant increase in attack power, versatility and situational awareness for decades to come.”