Apaches are the last of their kind. In the 1960s they were revolutionary new aircraft that flew at speeds and heights and altitudes we wouldn’t dream of today, and with superior firepower. The Army has been buying them ever since, and has ordered more than 1,500 of them. But now Amazon.com is taking bids to buy the first new generation since the 1960s.
You might think an airplane could do what an Apache does better—that is, carry out a lot more sorties in a day than an AH64D can in one. But the Apache’s incredible versatility comes from its ability to fly fast, low, straight, and far. It’s like a fighter jet but with much greater range and carrying capacity.
The Pentagon is betting that the new version won’t need to be as versatile because it will be guided by computers with much more precise targeting systems than even the AH64D has been designed for. That’s why Amazon wants to buy it: artificial intelligence like that lets it draw on capabilities we can’t even imagine yet.
The AH-64 Apache is the last of its kind, as far as I know. Although there are other types of attack helicopters, they are all derivatives of the U.S. AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter, which in turn was an evolution of the Bell AH-1 SuperCobra, which was itself a derivative of the U.S. Army’s AH-1G “Gunslinger.”
All these models have been in service for decades, and are now considered to be obsolete. The AH-64D Apache is now entering service with the U.S. Army and Marine Corps and is replacing the venerable AV-8B Harrier II in some roles, although it still plays a supporting role to the newer F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in many others.
The Apache has been in development since the late 1970s, and has undergone several upgrades over time. The current version is a multirole, twin engine attack helicopter that can operate from ships or land bases and carry a wide range of weapons, including air-to-ground missiles like the Hellfire and Sidewinder and anti-tank guided missiles like the TOW missile (now out of production). It can also carry laser guided bombs like the GBU-12 Paveway II
I’m a professional pilot and I’ve been flying AH-64D Apaches for over 15 years. I really appreciate the AH-64D Apache’s versatility and speed. Over the years I’ve flown the AH-64A, AH-64D, and now the AH-64E+.
I was an instructor pilot at Fort Rucker in Iraq. We flew AH-64Ds to train pilots and maintainer crews. During that time, we made some modifications to our aircraft to upgrade them from A to D models.
The E+ model is not only faster than its predecessors, but it has increased survivability by incorporating more armor and other equipment. The initial batch of Apaches are now being retired as they nearly hit their service life expectancy. They will be replaced by newer, more capable models that incorporate new sensors, weapons, and sensors providing better situational awareness.
We had great fun during our time in Iraq flying the Apache all over the place. We had a bird dog team that patrolled about 50 miles behind enemy lines with Army Rangers for a few weeks at a time. The Rangers would be on foot patrols, then we’d pick them up with a Chinook helicopter or an Apache accompanied by another Apache.
Of course we also flew Constant Hawk
Apache attack helicopters are exactly what they sound like: they are attack helicopters. But they are also the last of their kind, and the only type of helicopter that can fly at supersonic speed. They have been in service longer than any other military helicopter, and this is partly because of their versatility. No other military helicopter is as fast or can climb as high or carry as much or has the range to go on so long a mission.
They were originally designed to fight in Vietnam, but they proved so effective they were used in all kinds of situations: Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Bosnia, among others.
There was a time when this was a cutting-edge technology. It’s been around for a long time, and recently, it’s been going through some changes. These days, the Apache is probably the most important piece of hardware in the US Army, and possibly in the world.
There was a time when the Apache was intended for attack; it’s just that people didn’t use it that way. It was an attack helicopter back then because it had to be able to hit moving targets at least as far away as rifle range with its 30mm gun, and no other helicopters could do that.
Nowadays there are plenty of helicopters that can shoot farther than rifle range, but none of them have the speed to keep up with fast armoured vehicles on highways. The AH-64 has made up for this by being able to fly low enough to let its guns fire at concealed targets on the ground. For this reason, combined with its armor, its speed, and its ability to carry missiles or rockets, it’s uniquely suited for fighting insurgents nowadays.
An attack helicopter is a helicopter specifically designed to hunt enemy soldiers on the ground. The main difference between the AH-64D Apache, which was the first of its kind and is still in use by the US military today, and most other attack helicopters is that the Apache is equipped with a powerful 30mm cannon.
Because it has such a powerful weapon, an attack helicopter does not have to come in low over enemy territory and land close to the target. It can maintain higher altitude and fly over enemy territory, hovering just above trees and buildings, which enables it to fire its deadly cannon at targets below.
The AH-64D Apache was first used in combat during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. It was employed by both the United States Air Force (USAF) and United States Army (US Army) against Iranian forces during the conflict.
The Apache is one of the most expensive, sophisticated and lethal weapons system in the world today. It’s worth millions, maybe billions of dollars and it’s almost never used to attack anything. What it sees is our enemies: army units and terrorist organizations. But they are not the enemy, they are just targets. The enemy is in their shadows. The terrorists don’t care if we attack them or not: they know that when we attack them, we will certainly get ourselves killed.
The Apache only attacks after it has identified its target; that’s when it’s at its most dangerous. It’s a deadly weapon but you have to be able to recognize your enemy first.