The AH-64 Apache helicopter shattered all the rules.

The Boeing AH-64 Apache is the primary assault helicopter of the United States Army. It was named after a nomadic tribe of Native Americans whose life centered around buffalo. The Apache has proven to be a significant component of the modern American military force structure due to its powerful weapon systems.

What makes this helicopter so special?

It’s not the flying surfaces or performance specs that set the Apache apart from other helicopters; rather, it’s the Integrated Helmet and Visor System (IHADSS) worn by the entire crew.

The IHADSS is, as its name suggests, a helmet with a visor. The eyepiece follows the user’s eye movements, allowing the user to conduct various functions just by moving his or her eye.

For example, the IHADSS can coordinate the eye movements of an Apache crewman with the motions of the M230 chain gun. Picture this: an Apache member acquires and zeroes in on a target just by staring at it via the IHADSS’s eyepiece.

The visuals seen on the IHADSS are obtained by the front-mounted Target Acquisition and Designation System (TADS). The TADS is a laser target designator and electro-optical sensor that combines a thermal imager with a daytime monochrome television camera.

AH-64 Apache Specifications

The Apache was built for day, night, and adverse weather frontline service.  Apache can function in various potentially hazardous environments thanks to several sensor systems, including IHADSS and TADS. The Pilot Night Vision System (PNVS) is designed to accomplish exactly what its name implies: help pilots see in low light conditions.

The Apache also has passive infrared countermeasures, a global positioning system, and ground fire acquisition system capabilities (GFAS). Within its 120-degree field of vision, the GFAS can detect and target ground weapons fire (also known as muzzle flash) using two sensors and a thermal imaging camera, regardless of the ambient lighting conditions. The modern Apache’s sensor suite can simultaneously locate up to 256 targets within a 31-mile radius.

The Apache can switch between Anti-Armor, Covering Force, and Escort configurations. The Apache can carry 1,200 30mm rounds for the M230 chain gun in each configuration. When used for anti-armor operations, the Apache is equipped with sixteen Hellfire missiles and zero 70mm Hydra rockets.

The Apache has a number of different setups at its disposal, including Anti-Armor, Covering Force, and Escort. The Apache can transport 1,200 30mm rounds for the M230 chain cannon in either configuration. There are sixteen Hellfire missiles and no 70mm Hydra rockets in the Apache’s arsenal when it is utilized for anti-armor missions.

The AH-64 Apache helicopter shattered all the rules.
apache illustrations

History and combat operations

The Apache first saw combat during the 1986 invasion of Panama, known as Operation Just Cause, shortly after it entered service. The Apache, however, finally had its moment in the spotlight during Desert Storm.

The actual first shot of the war was fired by an Apache night attack on Iraq’s radar network on January 17, 1991. The Apache was so adept at hitting enemy tanks that it destroyed 278 of them in Iraq. However, the assault helicopter faced issues with maintenance and supply.

Hence, the Apache only made 20% of its planned flights during Desert Storm. And the rest of the Apache fleet was (unofficially) grounded to free up spare parts for the Apaches in the theatre of operations.

The Apache has also participated in the American conflicts of the 21st century in Iraq and Afghanistan. The attack helicopter has also been exported all over the world: Israel, Netherlands, South Korea, the UK, Japan, etc., making the AH-64 Apache the most well-known attack helicopter in the world.