I’ve been interested in the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter for years, but I don’t know a lot about it. I decided to do some research and write it up. Although this is ostensibly a blog, I am not trying to make money from this or drive traffic to any other site. This is simply my personal project to educate myself on the subject and share what I learn with others.
I hope you find it interesting.
The AH-64 Apache attack helicopter has been in service for more than a quarter century, and has been continually upgraded to take advantage of new technology. It is not only the world’s most advanced attack helicopter, but also one of the most lethal weapons in the world.
The AH-64 is heavily armed with a 30 mm chain gun, Hellfire missiles, and Hydra 70 rockets; this helicopter can engage targets on air or ground. The Apache is both a hunter and killer of tanks and armored vehicles, a hunter and killer of enemy helicopters, and a hunter and killer of ground targets such as troops in the open or lightly-armored vehicles. It can operate day or night, in good weather or bad; it not only flies low to avoid radar detection but can also detect radar at long ranges. It can be operated by two pilots sitting side by side – one to pilot the aircraft, the other to control its weapons systems – but it can also be flown autonomously using its advanced sensors.
The Apache AH-64 is now being used by twelve countries: USA (the largest user), Japan, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia (the second largest user), Egypt (the third largest user), Kuwait, Greece (the fourth largest user), Turkey (the fifth largest user),
The Apache was designed as a tank killer and was designed to be able to survive against the best enemy tanks of its time. The AH-64 was not designed to fight a peer force and if you ask the average Apache pilot he will tell you that it is not suited for this role.
The Army wanted a new attack helicopter from the mid 1970s on, but it wasn’t until 1982 that they actually had one in service. During the Cold War, the Army’s “helicopter guys” were able to stop any attempt by the Air Force to get a piece of their turf, but following the end of the Cold War and Desert Storm, there were no more enemies for the Army’s helicopter forces to fight.
The Army’s aviation branch began looking at how it could become more relevant in an era when there would no longer be any large tank battles in Central Europe and where there would be no more large scale conflicts like Vietnam or Korea where helicopters could play a major role. The Army started looking at new technologies like stealth and long range sensors and weapons that would allow them to conduct operations far away from friendly forces.
In 1997, Congress passed a law called Title 10 which allowed the Air Force to buy helicopters as long as they were “attack” type helicopters and
The US Army has operated the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter for about 30 years, during which it has undergone many upgrades and modifications. The Apache has also been exported to a number of countries and used in combat by the United States, Israel, UK and others.
The AH-64 was developed in the early 1980s as a replacement for the AH-1 Cobra and as a successor to the AH-56 Cheyenne. It was designed primarily as an attack helicopter (hence the AH designation), but has an heavily armed troop transport variant – the “AH-64D Longbow”.
In the early 1950s, the United States Department of Defense believed helicopters could be effective in improving the mobility of the U.S. Army. The Army initiated the development of attack helicopters that would serve as escorts to a new tank called the M551 Sheridan.
The first model was designated AH-56 Cheyenne, but it was canceled in 1972 due to numerous technical problems and cost overruns. (One prototype did survive, and is now on display at the National Museum of the United States Army in Virginia.) The Army sought a replacement for Cheyenne, which would be known as Attack Helicopter Experimental (AHX). Five companies submitted designs: Bell, Boeing Vertol/Grumman team, Hughes, Lockheed, and Sikorsky. After an extensive evaluation process in which each company flew demonstration tours for the Army and Marine Corps and provided proposals for aircraft production costs and operating costs, Hughes Aircraft Company was selected as the winner in 1976. During this competition phase, Hughes’ Model 77/YAH-64A prototype competed against Model 147/YAH-63A prototype from Lockheed. From 1978 to 1981, two YAH-64As underwent 13,000 hours of flight testing and demonstrated superior performance and stability compared to YAH-63A during
The AH-64D Apache is a twin-engine, four bladed, multi-mission attack helicopter designed as a highly stable aerial weapons-delivery platform. It is designed to fight and survive during the day, night, and in adverse weather throughout the world. The Apache carries a crew of two (pilot and copilot/gunner) and features a nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems. It has a large amount of systems redundancy to improve combat survivability.
The Apache’s primary weapon is its 30 mm M230 chain gun carried between the main landing gear, under the aircraft’s forward fuselage. It is equipped with 1,200 rounds of ammunition, although less than half of that is typically carried into battle due to the weight of the rounds. The gun can be fired at variable rates between 200 and 625 rpm. Some variants are armed with Stinger air-to-air missiles (ATAM).
The AH-64D uses stealth characteristics such as radar absorbent material (RAM) to reduce its radar cross section while employing other measures to reduce infrared emissions, sound emissions, and visual signatures.