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Defense Authorization Act Would Fund Apache Helicopter Upgrades In Mesa

The National Defense Authorization Act will direct more than $1 billion in defense spending to Boeing’s Mesa plant. Boeing has manufactured more than 2,000 Apache helicopters in Mesa over the past three decades. Now many of them will return to the Valley for upgrades at the same facility.

Mark Ballew leads Boeing’s Global Sales and Marketing Division. He says the contract authorizes the Mesa facility to remanufacture 52 Apache attack helicopters.

“So it’s a combination of reutilizing certain components and combining them with new components to make it cost effective for the country without degrading any of the capabilities of the aircraft,” Ballew said.

Ballew says there are nearly 400 suppliers in Arizona that provide parts and components for the Apache. Boeing reuses some parts like the sensor systems while replacing older components like the fuselage, transmission and rotor blades.

Ballew says the current multiyear contract with the government runs through 2022. He expects employment numbers at the Mesa facility will stay roughly the same for that time period.

The aerospace company sells the Apaches to 15 nations in addition to the U.S. government. Clients include the governments of Korea, India and Qatar.

Jimmy Jenkins was a producer and senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2014 to 2021.