.the hot desert air above Mesa,
Ariz., frequently pulses with the
sound of Apache attack helicopters as the intimidating machines are put
through their paces after emerging from
the Boeing production line.
It’s a sound that’s become familiar over
the nearly 30 years that the Mesa site has
built Apaches for the U.S. Army and a
growing number of international customers.
And Mesa employees are justly proud of
the site’s most famous product.
“Just to hear those things fly above …
It gives you a sense of accomplishment and
pride to know you had a hand in something
that was worthwhile,” said Ramon Pena Jr.,
an electrical and mechanical assembler who
has spent 26 years working on the Apache.
Mesa’s flagship line is rolling out the
first of the next-generation Apache Block III
production models this fall. The U.S. Army
plans to order nearly 700 newly built or
remanufactured Block III helicopters, which
will keep the Mesa site busy for at least
the next decade.
But there’s more to Mesa than the
Apache line. Working alongside the rotorcraft program employees, a contingent of
more than 175 Boeing Test & Evaluation
employees is instrumental in rotorcraft
development, engineering and flight-test
activities. Additionally, Mesa’s composites
and electrical fabrication centers are
making a growing array of components
for multiple Boeing aircraft.
“We’ve gone from producing Block II
Apaches two years ago to having three
and soon four production lines here today,”
said Dave Koopersmith, Boeing Military
Aircraft’s vice president of Attack Helicopter
Programs and Mesa senior site executive,
referring to the two Apache production
lines, A160T Hummingbird unmanned
system assembly and the anticipated AH-6i
light attack/reconnaissance helicopter line.
“We’ve had a long-term investment strategy
here with an incredible foundation provided
by the Apache line.”