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McDonnell Douglas AH-64 Apache

posted by Jiri Wagner

Defense forces worldwide fly three variants of the AH-64 Apache multi-mission combat helicopters – the AH-64A Apache, the next-generation AH-64D Apache, and the AH-64D Apache Longbow, which is equipped with the advanced Longbow fire control radar.

The AH-64D Apache Longbow, the next-generation version of the combat-proven AH-64A Apache, and a candidate to fulfill the attack helicopter requirements of several armed forces worldwide, is in production at The Boeing Company in Mesa, Ariz.

Boeing is producing AH-64D helicopters for the U.S. Army, and defense forces in The Netherlands and the United Kingdom at a rate of more than three helicopters a month.

The first AH-64D Apache Longbows for the U.S. Army were delivered in 1997.

The Apache Longbow is the only combat helicopter in service with the ability to rapidly detect, classify, prioritize and engage stationary or moving enemy targets at standoff ranges in near all weather environments. The Apache Longbow’s advanced avionics suite gives combat pilots an unmatched advantage over enemy threats through the integration of the Longbow fire control radar, advanced Hellfire missiles, and an advanced avionics suite.

The first six production Apache Longbows were flown to Fort Hood, Texas, in April aboard a C-5A transport aircraft during a mission that demonstrated the Army’s ability to rapidly deploy large numbers of the next-generation combat helicopter. The Army unveiled the Apache Longbows to the public in June during a formal arrival ceremony.

The first fully equipped U.S. Army unit with AH-64D Apache Longbows, the 1-227th Attack Battalion, began battalion level training in July. It is scheduled to become the Army’s first combat-ready Apache Longbow unit in mid-October. The unit also became the first to field the Interactive Electronic Technical Manual, a revolutionary Class IV computerized data storage system that eliminates the need for paper technical manuals. The Boeing Company is under contract with the U.S. Army to produce 232 Apache Longbows over the next four years.

To validate the Apache Longbow capabilities, Boeing built six prototypes: four equipped with the advanced Longbow fire control radar system, and two without the radar. All six prototypes flew on or ahead of schedule and demonstrated the advanced capabilities of the improved Apache aircraft.

During U.S. Army’s Force XXI field exercises in 1996 at Fort Irwin, Calif., two Apache Longbow aircraft put on a
tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) clinic in the California desert. Key U.S. Army officers characterized the Apache Longbow’s performance as “the quintessential example” of how the U.S. Army will dominate the digital battlefield of the 21st century.

In earlier Army operational tests, held in 1995, six Apache Longbow prototypes competed against standard AH-64A Apaches. The threat array developed to test the combat capabilities of the two Apache designs was a postulated 2004 lethal and digitized force consisting of heavy armor, air defense and countermeasures.

The tests clearly demonstrated that Apache Longbows:

Are 400 percent more lethal (hitting more targets) than the AH-64A, already the most capable and advanced armed helicopter in the world to enter service.
Are 720 percent more survivable than the AH-64A.
Meet or exceed Army requirements for both target engagement range and for probability of acquiring a selected target. The specific requirements and results are classified.
Can easily hit moving and stationary tanks on an obscured battlefield at maximum range, when optical systems are rendered ineffective. 
Can use either its Target Acquisition Designation Sight or fire control radar as a targeting sight, offering increased battlefield flexibility.
Have the ability to initiate the radar scan, detect and classify more than 128 targets, prioritize the 16 most dangerous targets, transmit the information to other aircraft, and initiate a precision attack -- all in fewer than 30 seconds.
Require one third less maintenance man-hours (3.4) per flight hour than the requirement.
Are able to fly 91 percent of the time — 11 percent more than the requirement.

AH-64D Apache Longbows have greater weapons accuracy at longer ranges and have the ability to fight more effectively at night and in virtually any weather. The Apache Longbow’s advanced communications and combat capabilities gives battlefield commanders the ability to more effectively manage the 21st century battlefield.

The AH-64D Apache, the next-generation version of the combat-proven AH-64A Apache, and a candidate to fulfill the attack helicopter requirements of several defense forces worldwide, is in production at The Boeing Company in Mesa, Ariz.

This advanced, multi-mission rotorcraft features fully integrated state-of-the-art avionics and weapons plus a state-of-the-art data modem that transmits real-time, secure digitized battlefield information to a wide range of air and ground forces.

The AH-64D incorporates a series of improvements to the AH-64A that make it more survivable, deployable and maintainable in the field.

Internationally, Boeing has won two major AH-64D competitions in Europe — one in The Netherlands for 30 AH-64D aircraft and the other as a teammate of GKN Westland Helicopters Ltd. in the United Kingdom for 67 next-generation AH-64D Apaches.

Like its predecessor, the AH-64D carries a lethal array of missiles, rockets and the 1,200 rounds of ammunition for its 30mm M230 automatic cannon.

Its ability to communicate digitally with other aircraft and ground forces, and to share that information almost instantly, give the AH-64D a significant advantage over current combat helicopters and will enable it to dominate the 21st century battlefield.

In 1996, The Boeing Company signed a five-year, multi-year contract with the U.S. Army for 232 AH-64D Apache, and delivered the first remanufactured aircraft March 21, 1997. Through July 1998, the company had delivered 36 AH-64Ds.

The U.S. Army plans to remanufacture its entire AH-64A Apache fleet of approximately 750 aircraft over the next decade.

During the U.S. Army’s Force XXI field exercises in 1996 at Fort Irwin, Calif., two AH-64D Apaches put on a tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) clinic in the California desert. Although official results have not been released, key U.S. Army officers have characterized the new helicopter’s performance as “the quintessential example” of how the U.S. Army will dominate the digital battlefield of the 21st century.

The AH-64A Apache, widely recognized as the most advanced, combat-proven attack helicopter in the world for the past decade, is the predecessor of today’s unmatched AH-64D Apache Longbow multi-mission combat helicopter.

The Boeing Company produced the AH-64A in Mesa, Ariz., until 1997 when production in Mesa transitioned to the next-generation AH-64D Apache and AH-64D Apache Longbow. Some 900 AH-64As are in service worldwide for the U.S. Army and five international customers.

Until fielding of the Apache Longbow, the versatile twin-turbine engine, 225-mph Apache was the only combat helicopter in the world capable of routine operations in daytime or darkness and nearly all bad weather. The Apache uses laser, infrared and other high technology systems — like the Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision System — to find, track and attack armored and other targets. Armed with 16 laser-guided precision Hellfire missiles, 76 70mm rockets, or combination of both, and a 30mm automatic cannon with up to 1200 rounds of high explosive dual purpose ammunition, the AH-64A was
developed for the U.S. Army to help counter a numerical advantage in Warsaw Pact armored forces.

Apache helicopters played a key role in the 1989 action in Panama, where much of its activity was at night, when the AH-64's advanced sensors and sighting systems were effective against anti-government forces. Apache helicopters also played a major role in the liberation of Kuwait, destroying vital early warning radar sites, an action that opened the U.N. coalition's battle plan. During Operation Desert Storm, AH-64As were credited with destroying more than 500 tanks plus hundreds of additional armored personnel carriers, trucks and other vehicles.

Apaches also demonstrated the ability to perform when called upon, logging thousands of combat hours at readiness rates in excess of 85 percent during the Gulf War.

AH-64A Apaches also have helped keep the peace in Bosnia. The AH-64A’s advanced sensors and sighting systems proved effective in removing the cover of darkness from opposing forces.

The Army has fielded combat-ready AH-64A units in the United States, Germany and in Korea, where they play a major role in achieving the U.S. Army's security missions.

Army National Guard units in North and South Carolina, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Utah and Idaho also fly Apache helicopters.

The Boeing Company delivered 937 AH-64A Apaches — 821 to the U.S. Army and 116 to international customers, including Egypt, Greece, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — between 1984 and 1997.

General characteristics

Primary function Attack helicopter
Contractor Boeing (previous McDonnell Douglas)
Power plant Two General Electric T700-GE-701C turboshaft engines
Thrust 2x 1,857 HP 2x 1,385 kW
Main rotor diameter 48 ft 14.63 m
Tail rotor diameter 9 ft 2 in 2.79 m
Fuselage length 49 ft 1 in 15.47 m
Length 58 ft 3 in 17.73 m
Height 15.24 ft 4.64 m
Wingspan 17.15 ft 5.23 m
Weight empty 11,387 lb 5,165 kg
max. takeoff 21,000 lb 9,525 kg
Max. speed 184 mph 296 km/h
Ceiling 10,200 ft 3,108 m
Range 428 miles 690 km
Crew Two
Armament 30mm cannon M230, up to 16 Hellfire rockets or 76 rockets 70 mm, possible its combination.
Date deployed 1984

Press Releases

Boeing and U.S. Army Sign Block III Apache Longbow System Development and Demonstration Contract / 2006-07-26

Lockheed Martin awarded $16M to build radar detection systems for AH-64 Apache helicopters / 2006-08-07

Boeing Begins Delivery of New AH-64DHA Apache Longbows for Greece / 2007-01-16

Boeing Awarded Contract for 126 Remanufactured AH-64D Apache Longbow Helicopters / 2007-01-18

Boeing-built AH-64D Apache Longbow Helicopters Make Debut in Kuwait / 2007-03-06

Boeing Awarded Contract to Test Advanced Helicopter Rotor System / 2007-05-29

Boeing Delivers First New-Build Apache Longbow Helicopter to U.S. Army / 2007-06-20


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