Army AH-64 Apache Helicopter

Apache helicopter
Apache helicopter. Photo courtesy US Army

General

The AH-64 Apache helicopter is an attack helicopter built by Boeing and used by the Army since 1984. Over 800 Apaches are in the Army’s force. Apache’s are used for close and rear support of troops and for conducting precision strikes. Night vision and electronics allow for day, night, bad weather and obstructed view operations. Apache’s have been successfully used in Iraq, Afghanistan and other battles.

In Iraq Operation Desert Storm Apache’s are credited with the destruction of hundreds of tanks, armored vehicles and radar sites. The US Army Apache fleet has logged over one million flight hours. The Apache helicopter has been called a flying tank due to its array of weapons and firepower.

Capabilities

There are two variations of the Apache helicopter – AH-64A is the original model and AH-64D Longbow is the current production model. The Longbow, delivered first in 1997, is more survivable than the AH-64A, can hit moving and stationary targets from 7 kilometers away and require less maintenance. Armor on the Apache protects it from up to 12.7 mm rounds while the rotor blades can survive 23 mm rounds. The engines are also armor protected.

Near real-time situational awareness provides the Apache pilots with radar and laser enhanced vision of the battlefield and weapons control. The cockpit has multifunction displays and decision aids to improve pilot effectiveness and reduce workload.

Implementation of integrated information grid will allow for smooth battlefield communications. It is capable of controlling UAV’s. The Apache’s composite rotor blades allow for improved range and speed. The helicopter is armored to survive attacks and allow for close combat missions.

The Apache is fitted with fire control radar with capability of target identification and threat assessment.

The fire control radar can monitor up to 128 targets at one time with 30 second target acquisition. Pilot night vision capability allows for day or night operation. Night vision is supplemented by FLIR, GPS, optics and laser rangefinder equipment in a rotating turret for enhanced, 360 degree operation. Countermeasures include warning radar by Northrop Grumman, target acquisition system, infrared countermeasures, laser warning system, radar jammer and chaff dispensers.

A C-5 transport aircraft can carry six Apache helicopters. Apaches can be carried by many Navy ships. The Apache can carry one to four external 230 gallon fuel tanks for extended range operation (up to 1900 kilometers). The thermal signature of the Apache is greatly reduced to reduce the ability for radar to see the craft.

Weapons On Board

 

  • Apache Longbow variation carries 16 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles which is a “fire and forget” missile with a range up to 12 kilometers
  • M230 chain gun that fires 625 rounds per minute 30mm; carries 1200 rounds of ammunition. The chain gun is located on the bottom of the helicopter.
  • Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System with 70mm rockets; carries up to 76 rockets
  • Can carry air-to-air missiles such as Stinger, AIM-9 Sidewinder, Mistral and Sidearm

    Specifications

     

    • Engines = two turbo shaft General Electric engines producing 1265 kW of power each
    • Climb rate = 860 feet per minute
    • Cruise speed = 167 miles per hour
    • Range = 300 miles
    • Flight endurance = 2.5 hours
    • Length = 58 feet
    • Rotor diameter = 48 feet
    • Height = 12 feet
    • Crew size = two – pilot and co-pilot/gunner
    • Weight = over 11,000 pounds empty and 17,650 pounds fully loaded
    • Maximum speed = 150 knots
    • Approximate cost = $12 million each

    Production and Exports

     

    The US Army has over 800 Apache helicopters in its fleet. Over 1,000 Apache helicopters have been exported to Egypt, Greece, Japan, Saudi Arabia, UK and Israel.