U.S. aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co. recently revealed an arrangement with the United States Army and international client states for the development of 184 AH-64E Apache assault helicopters.
Australia and Egypt will each receive 54 airframes, while the United States will receive 115. The recent announcement by Boeing followed a significant achievement by the Apache.
The Army’s formidable helicopter has surpassed five million flight hours, a feat that shows it is one of the world’s most capable and reliable attack helicopters.
A Review of the History of the Apache
The development of the A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog” and the Av-8A Harrier by the United States Air Force and Marine Corps began in earnest around the turn of the 1970s. The military wanted its own anti-armor attack plane. Several manufacturing giants, including Bell, Boeing, Lockheed, and Hughes Helicopters, submitted proposals for the Army’s consideration.
The first flight of the Army’s YAH-64 prototype occurred in 1975. The Army awarded Hughes (who would subsequently merge with McDonnell Douglas) a large-scale development contract within a year.
Apache AH-64: Specifications
The AH-64 Apache has a primary rotor with four blades and a tail rotor with four blades. The Apache is outfitted with armor along the passageway between the cabins to protect the lives of at least one crew member in the event of an attack.
The helicopter has a self-sealing fuel system and can withstand missiles weighing up to 2,500 pounds. Thus the airframe and crew are safe. The AH-64D Apache Longbow, a refined version of the original helicopter, had its maiden flight in 1992.
Boeing explains that the Longbow’s fire control radar and advanced avionics suite allow pilots to quickly locate, classify and engage adversary targets in nearly all weather conditions.
The Apache family of helicopters is here to stay.
The Apache’s helmet-mounted display was arguably the most useful innovation it introduced to military aviation. As the Armed Forces explain, “Integrated Helmet Visor and Visor System (IHADSS); among other capabilities, the pilot or gunner can attach the helicopter’s M230 30mm autocannon to his helmet, causing the cannon to follow his head movements to aim where he is looking.”
The Apache’s performance standard for aerial gunnery is to score at least one hit per 30 shots fired at a range of approximately 800-1,200 yards. Boeing is updating the latest E variant of the Apache airframe to incorporate new software and the Army’s upgraded turbine engine.
Apache AH-64 marks a milestone.
In early March, the Apache helicopter reached a major milestone. Army helicopters have officially reached five million flight hours, which is equivalent to flying non-stop for more than 570 years.
“From the original AH-64A in 1984 to the latest AH-64E v6 today, the Apache has evolved tremendously, repeatedly exceeding expectations and redefining the capabilities of the platform. As well as being a highly effective surveillance tool, the Apache has proven itself to be a formidable attack helicopter, “Boeing said.
Like other notable US-made platforms like the M1-Abrams, the Apache was primarily created for the Cold War but has remained a relevant and vital airframe in different wars over the decades, seeing action on both sides. The Apache family of helicopters will remain the Army’s preferred attack airframes for the foreseeable future.