Photo: Boeing

Apache AH 64E 

Indian Airforce: World’s fourth strongest air force has become more Stronger with inducting Apache AH 64e helicopters. India and Aerospace major Boeing contracted 22 Apache AH 64e helicopters through the FMS (foreign military sales program) of the U.S government in September 2015 for under 3 billion dollars. Boeing delivered the last batch of 22 Apaches in 2020. 

Indian Air Force
IAF Apache’s maiden flight at Boeing production facility In Mesa, Arizona. Photo: Boeing

Apache in Indian Air Force is a big deal for the Indian armed forces. Currently, it serves in several country’s forces such as Isreal, the Netherland, Egypt, and the USA.

India is one of the largest arms importers. Most of these arms and ammunition are not battle-tested, but that’s not the case with the Apache. It’s been used extensively in battle, and every single time it’s established itself to be a flawless war machine.

Boeing made Apache is a multi-role advance attack helicopter. It has been modified for Indian terrain. Apache has an excellent capability to carry weapons. Among its primary weapons, one is AGM-114 Hellfire Missiles and the other is Hydra 70 rocket pods. Hellfire is an advanced missile. Also, know as fire and forget missile. With this, Apache doesn’t have to be close to the enemy. It can target and fire with a distance of 5 miles.

It uses nose-mounted sensors to target. Hellfire missiles Can damage even a tank to a great extent. Another feature that makes it more efficient is the advanced LONGBOW RADAR. Equipped with this radar, an Apache can locate up to 256 targets simultaneously within 50 km. So it’s imaginable how furious Apache would have been in Afghanistan.

Before Apache, the Indian Airforce was primarily using MI 35. It’s a great chopper, but it is somewhat outdated. Some of the drawbacks are less fuel capacity, close in for the attack, limited missile-carrying capacity.

Apache is a flying tank. It’s designed to survive a heavy attack and inflict massive damage. It is skilled to zero in on specific targets even in harsh weather and in the complete dark.

Apache Hellfire Missile:

Apache has a chief function which is to destroy armored ground targets such as tanks and bunkers. To Destroy these heavy targets You will need some serious firepower too. This demand is met by the Apache’s one of the primary weapons, The Hellfire Missile. Each missile has its own guided and propulsion system. This missile is powerful enough to burn through the heaviest tank armor on the planet.

Two pylons are mounted on each wing of the chopper, and each Pylon has four firing rails. Each rail has a hellfire missile. So there are two wings with four Pylons with four missiles on each Pylon. So, 16 Hellfire missiles can be equipped on the Apaches.

Each missile receives the command from the helicopter’s computer.  After receiving the fire signal, the missile sets of the Propellent. Which burns and generates enough force for the missile to break free of the rail. As the missile speeds up, the force of acceleration triggers the arming mechanism. And missile hits the target, and the impact sensor sets off the warhead. 

The original Hellfire missile design required the laser light to be fixed on the target until the missile hits it. Sometimes the problem occurs when helicopters try to keep the laser fixed, and it’s out in the open, putting it at risk. There are some drawbacks to the laser-guided system. Such as obstacles in the way, cloud covering, Non fixed laser in a specific way.

Hellfire II missile in Longbow Apache helicopter solves this problem. It works on the radar-guided missile system. 

APACHE ROCKETS AND GUNS:

Apache can carry up to 4 sets of hellfire missiles or a Rocket pod carrying 19 Hydra-70mm unguided rockets mounted on the wings. 

Each launcher set can carry 19 folding wings 2.75-inch aerial rockets in launching tubes. There is an igniter at the back of the tube. It has to ignite to fire. Fins of the rocket unfold the second rocket leaves the tube.

An M-230 30mm automatic cannon attaches to a turret under the chopper’s nose. The choppers’ sophisticated computer system controls the gun. The computer controls the hydraulic that swings the turret from side to side and up and down. This automatic cannon is a chain gun controlled by an electric motor that rotates the chain that slides boult assembly back and forth to load fire and extracts and eject cartridges.

This gun’s magazine holds a maximum of 1200 rounds, and the gun can fire 600 to 650 rounds a minute. The cannon fire the high explosive rounds designed to pierce.

Apache controls and other significant parts:

Apache cockpits divide into two sections. The front is for the gunner, and the back is for the pilot. The pilot controls the flight pattern, and the gunner aims at the target. Both sections of the cockpit have flight and fight control if one has to take control of both. There are three display panels for the pilot to see and control the navigational and flight information. 

Apache is full of sophisticated sensors and controls. The Radar dome on the mast can make out of shape of anything in the range like choppers, ground troops, trucks, vehicles, tanks. It pinpoints the exact location on the pilot’s screen with the help of the radio waves it emits.

Night sensors are attached to the Apache nose on the rotating turret. In that section, there is a camera and telescope as well. It works on the infrared system that detects the infrared light released by the heated objects.

Apaches can also jam the enemy radar in range. Apaches are capable of evading heat-seeking missiles by reducing their infrared signature.

Apache is protected from all sides. The reinforced armor and bulletproof glass protect the cockpit. Pilot and gunner seats are also protected by Kevlar armor. With the combination of firepower, strength, agility, Apache is indeed a formidable war machine.