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McDonnell Douglas AH-64 Apache

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Type: Military

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Information on the AH-64 Apache

The AH-64 Apache is the United States Army's principal attack helicopter, the successor to the AH-1 Cobra.

History

The United States Army issued a request for proposals (RFP) in 1972 for an Advanced Attack Helicopter (AAH). From an initial list of 5 manufacturers Hughes Aircraft's Toolco Aircraft Division (later Hughes Helicopters) and Bell were selected as finalists. Hughes' Model 77/YAH-64 was selected over Bell's Model 409/YAH-63 in 1976. First flight of a development prototype occurred on September 30, 1975 but it was not until 1982 that a production contract was signed. In 1983 the first production helicopter was rolled out at Hughes Helicopter's facility at Mesa, Arizona. In 1984 Hughes Helicopters was purchased by McDonnell Douglas for $500 million. Hughes later became part of The Boeing Company with the merger of Boeing and McDonnell Douglas in August 1997.


Features

Two major models of AH-64 Apache are in service in the US Army; AH-64A and AH-64D. An AH-64B variant was designed for naval operation (Marine Corps), but never manufactured. When development of the D model started, the corresponding radarless version initially had the designation AH-64C. However, since the only difference between the C model and the radar-equipped D model was the radar, which could be moved from oneaircraft to another, a decision was made to not distinguish between the two versions, irrespective of the presence or absence of the radar. A number of other models have been derived from both AH-64A and AH-64D for export. The British-built Westland WAH-64 (assembled from kits purchased from Boeing) is based on the AH-64D with several improvements.

Built to endure front-line environments, it can operate during the day or night and in adverse weather using the integrated helmet and display sight system. The Apache is also equipped with some of the latest avionics and electronics, such as the Target Acquisition Designation Sight, Pilot Night Vision System (TADS/PNVS), Black Hole passive infrared countermeasures, nap-of-the-earth navigation, and GPS.

MOS's 15X/15Y (Apache armament electrical systems repairer) and MOS 15R (AH-64 Attack Helicopter Repairer) are easily the keystone to any successful AH-64 combat operation.

AH-64D

The advanced model, the AH-64D Apache Longbow, is equipped with an improved sensor suite and weapon systems. The key improvement over the A-variant is the AN/APG-78 Longbow Fire Control Radar dome installed over the main rotor which houses a millimeter-wave Fire Control Radar (FCR) target acquisition system. The elevated position of the radome allows detection and (arcing) missile engagement of targets even when the helicopter itself is concealed by an obstacle (e.g. terrain, trees or buildings). Further, a radio modem integrated with the sensor suite allows a D-variant Apache to share targeting data with other AH-64Ds that do not have a line-of-sight to the target. In this manner a group of Apaches can engage multiple targets but only reveal the radome of one D-variant Apache.

Also, the aircraft was updated with T700-GE-701C engines, and a fully-integrated cockpit. In addition, the aircraft receives improved survivability, communications, and navigation capabilities. Most existing capabilities of the AH-64A Apache are retained.

Combat operations

United States

Apache was first used in combat during the 1989 invasion of Panama, Operation Just Cause. Apache AH-64 and AH-64Ds have played important roles in several Middle Eastern wars, including the Gulf War, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq. The Apaches were proven to be excellent tank hunters and also destroyed hundreds of armored vehicles (mainly of the Iraqi army).

During Operation Desert Storm, nine AH-64s carrying an asymmetrical loadout of Hydra 70 flechette rockets, Hellfires, and one auxiliary fuel tank each, and guided by four MH-53 Pave Lows, were used to destroy a portion of the Iraqi radar network to allow bomber aircraft into Iraq without detection. This was the first attack of Desert Storm.

Recent reports indicate that the helicopter is vulnerable to ground forces in certain environments. Operation Enduring Freedom witnessed as high as 80% of Apaches badly damaged by ground fire in mountainous regions with disparate enemy forces. Similarly, the Apache has been shown to be vulnerable to infantry when operating in urban terrain. During the Second Gulf War, Iraqi ground troops and insurgents were able to damage propulsion and flight control systems with ground-fire, sometimes obligating immediate emergency landings. During the Operation Iraqi Freedom, some Apaches were damaged in urban combat areas including one captured by Iraqi troops and paraded on international TV.[citation needed]

There are various factors that contribute to these occurrences. First, Apaches were designed to engage and destroy armor at safe ranges, where they could not be fired upon. Secondly, infantry are less easily detected than armor. In Iraq, the close-quarters, and ample cover afforded by the urban environment make it easy for ground forces to attack at close ranges (50 - 850 m). This environment brought out the Apache's vulnerability to close range attacks from heavy caliber machine guns (0.5 inch). Also, since the Apache is only capable of firing at a single target at a time, it is vulnerable when attacked from several dispersed positions. Combat utility helicopters like the UH-60 Black Hawk may not suffer this disadvantage, as they have multiple manned side armaments, adding extra protection in certain tactical situations. However, the relative effectiveness of utility helicopters is debatable when taking into account other factors like the Apache's superior maneuverability, armament, and speed. In either case, the Apache's use in both attack and support roles in urban environments has proven effective. Apaches have been successful working in support roles with ground troops, and as an observation platform for directing artillery. Despite the Apache's vulnerability in urban operations, it is currently rated as the most survivable of all military helicopters. The vast majority of Apache helicopters that have taken heavy combat damage have been able to continue their assigned missions and return safely to their bases.

Israel

The Israeli Air Force uses the Apaches as a high-tech platform to perform strikes with guided missiles against various targets. The AH-64A attacked and destroyed dozens of Hezbollah outposts in Lebanon during the 1990s, attacking in many weather conditions - day and night. During the al-Aqsa Intifada, the IAF used the Apaches to kill senior Hamas figures, such as Ahmed Yasin and Adnan al-Ghoul with guided missiles. In the Israel-Lebanon conflict of July-August 2006, two IDF AH-64A helicopters collided, killing 1 pilot and wounding 3, all critically. In another incident in the conflict, IDF AH-64D Longbow crashed - Hezbollah claims to have shot it down, killing the two pilots. The IAF denies this. The cause is under investigation.[2]

United Kingdom

The UK licences the Apache design resulting in the Westland WAH-64 Apache of which 67 have been built. They replace the Lynx Helicopter as the British Army's tactical attack helicopter. They are actively deployed, for example, in Afghanistan.[1]

Netherlands

Dutch AH-64 Apaches were deployed alongside US AH-64s is support of NATO peacekeeping forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Dutch AH-64s have been deployed as part of the Netherlands contribution to Multinational force in Iraq. In February 2006, the Netherlands contribution to NATO forces in Afghanistan was increased from 600 to 1,400, and included 6 AH-64s in support. [2]

Cost and users

The original unit cost for the AH-64A was about US$14.5 million. In September 2003, Greece ordered 12 AH-64D (in addition to the already existing fleet of 20 AH-64A+) for a total cost of $675 million (presumably including weapons and support), indicating a gross unit cost for the AH-64D of $56.25 million. Singapore purchased a total of 20 AH-64D Longbow Apache aircraft in two batches between 1999 and 2001. Pakistan is thought to have ordered 6 Apache Longbow for its various anti-terrorism missions; unofficial reports suggest that the Pakistan Army has a requirement of up to 30 AH-64D Apache Longbow by 2010.

In addition to the U.S., Greece, and Singapore, countries which use the Apache include Japan, Egypt, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Israel, South Korea, Bahrain, and Jordan. (As of 2006, the latter three countries do not own any Apache helicopters.)

The United Kingdom is using 67 Westland WAH-64 Apaches which will operate alongside amphibious forces as necessary and have a folding blade assembly for carrier operations. Taiwan and Pakistan have also considered procuring the AH-64D.

Source: This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "AH-64 Apache".



AH-64 Apache Specifications

Crew: 2: one pilot, one CPG (co-pilot/gunner)
Length: 58 ft 4 in (17.7 in) with rotors turning
Length: ()
Rotor diameter: 48 ft 0 in (14.63 m)
Height: 12.7 ft (3.87 m)
Disc area: 1,809.5 ft? (168.11 m?)
Empty weight: 11,387 lb (5,165 kg)
Loaded weight: 18,000 lb (8,000 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 21,000 lb (A-model, 23,000 lb maximum for D-model) (9,525 kg)
Powerplant: 2? General Electric T701 turboshafts, 1,690 shp (1890 for -C) (1,261 kW, 1410 -C) each

Performance
Never exceed speed: 197 knots (227 mph, 365 km/h)
Maximum speed: 158 knots (182 mph, 293 km/h)
Cruise speed: 143 knots (165 mph, 265 km/h)
Combat radius: 260 nm (300 mi, 480 km)
Ferry range: 1,024 nm (1,180 mi, 1,900 km)
Service ceiling: 21,000 ft (6,400 m)
Rate of climb: 2,500 ft/min (12.7 m/s)
Disc loading: 9.80 lb/ft? (47.90 kg/m?)
Power/mass: 0.18 lb/hp (310 W/kg)

Armament
Guns: 1? M230 30 mm (1.18 in) cannon, 1,200 rounds
Missiles: combination of AGM-114 Hellfire, AIM-92 Stinger, AIM-9 Sidewinder, Hydra 70 FFARockets



AH-64 Apache Videos

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