The British Army declares that its new AH-64E helicopter is combat ready.

AH-64E Apache attack helicopters are cleared for frontline operation following the British Army’s largest ground exercise in 20 years, Iron Titan.

The first regiment equipped with the British Army’s new AH-64E Apache helicopter has been ready for frontline deployment.

The Army stated in a press release that during Exercise Iron Titan, the 3 Army Air Corps Regiment (3 Regt AAC) underwent extensive testing, evaluating all aspects of the unit, including logistics, command and control, and the operation and maintenance of the latest generation AH-64E under field conditions.

This exercise validated 3 Regt AAC in its primary mission, providing an aviation deep strike battle group consisting of AH-64E and Wildcat reconnaissance helicopters from 1 Regiment Army Air Corps to the 3rd Division (UK), the main fighting division of the British Army.

In this role, the AH-64E plays a critical role in shaping how the Army will operate in the future, as outlined in the Future Soldier transformation program.

For six weeks, 3 Regt AAC deployed from its base at Wattisham Flying Station in Suffolk to establish temporary facilities at Nesscliffe in Shropshire before moving to Eaglescott and Chivenor in Devon.

The British Army declares that its new AH-64E helicopter is combat ready.

During the exercise, AH-64Es executed attack missions on simulated enemy positions spanning from Otterburn in Northumberland to Lydd in Kent.

Throughout the exercise, technicians from the Royal School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) were responsible for maintaining the aircraft, while ground personnel effectively operated advanced refueling and armament points, similar to pit stops of military Formula 1, ensuring that the aircraft’s fuel tanks and weapons pylons remained fully operational.

Lieutenant Colonel Rich Simcock, commanding officer of 3 Regt AAC, highlighted the importance of the AH-64E, stating: “The AH-64E is the most advanced attack helicopter in the world, and the step change it brings in lethality, agility, “survivability and its ability to communicate and integrate with other capabilities is nothing short of revolutionary.”

«To achieve validation, every function we perform as a regiment has been tested in a realistic scenario that reflects the challenges of modern operations. “We have shown how we can sustain and survive on the battlefield while attacking targets deep behind enemy lines to give ground troops a decisive advantage,” added Lieutenant Colonel Simcock.

The AH-64E, which replaced the Apache Mk. 1 in 2021, offers improved flight performance with a new drive train and rotor blades. It features improved displays and sensors, advanced communication systems to share data with other helicopters, unmanned aircraft systems and ground forces, as well as integrated maintenance diagnostic systems to increase aircraft availability.

The remarkable progress of 3 Regt AAC highlights the commitment and dedication of personnel, including aircrew and engineers, who underwent training courses and developed new procedures to take advantage of the advanced capabilities of the AH-64E.

50 new Apache AH-64E attack helicopters to be delivered by 2024

The new AH-64E Apaches were first delivered in November 2020, when the British Army took delivery of two of a fleet of 50 attack helicopters being purchased from Boeing under an intergovernmental agreement signed with the United States in 2016, whose completion is scheduled for 2024.

The AH-64E will replace the Apache MK1 helicopters in service with the British Army since 2001, proving to be a winning asset in battles in Afghanistan and Libya. The AH-64E is considered one of the most advanced multi-role helicopters in the world today, with improvements over its predecessors that include advances in sensors and new avionics, such as communications and data-sharing facilities.

The Boeing-built AH-64E features new transmission and rotor blades to improve flight performance, improved sights and sensors, communications systems to share data with other helicopters, unmanned aircraft systems and ground forces, and integrated maintenance diagnostic systems to increase aircraft availability.

In June 2021, the UK Defense Procurement Minister confirmed that the helicopters would be armed with the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM), as well as the Hellfire K1 and Hellfire Romeo missiles and a 30mm chain gun.

Andrew Salerno-Gartwaite