AH-64E Apache Guardian
Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
11 July 2008
Also Known As: AB3, AB3A, AB3B, AH-640, AH-64E and Block III AH-64D Apache Longbow
Origin: United States of America
Boeing* and KAI Korea Aerospace Industries (fuselage) (*) lead contractor
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Description: The AH-64 Apache is a twin-turbine engine, armored, attack helicopter designed to defeat the most advanced main battle tanks at standoff ranges. It employs a combination of advanced sensors and Hellfire anti-tank missiles (up to 16), as well as a 30mm nose-mounted M230 chain gun (1,200 rounds) and 70mm unguided rockets (up to 76). The Apache is capable of operation at night, in darkness, and in adverse weather, even in presence of obscurants. The M230 chain gun fires M788 30mm target practice rounds and M848 30mm dummy ammunition during training. They were deployed for the first time in Panama during operation Just Cause in 1989 and subsequently in other military campaigns with less impact than during the Gulf War. In 1991 the AH-64As played a vital role destroying Iraqi armored battle tanks stationary and moving. In 2003 during operation Iraqi Freedom they provided close air support to American armored units while they were deploying throughout Iraq. There are three generations or blocks of the Apache attack helicopter: AH-64A Block I in the mid-1980s, AH-64D Block II in the late 1990s and AH-64E Block III in the early 2010s.
Following the RAH-66 Comanche cancellation in February 2004, the US Army selected the Apache as the attack helicopter for the objective force associated with the Future Combat Systems (FCS) program. This decision will keep the Apache Longbow in active service for the next three decades. The next round of Apache enhancements, sometimes referred to as Block III, include a new composite rotor blade, JTRS radio system, improved drive system, and cognitive decision-aiding software. The Block III AH-64D Apache Longbow combat helicopter Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) contract was signed on 28 June 2005 in Washington D.C.; Huntsville, Alabama; and Mesa, Arizona. Follow-on engineering and production contracts were anticipated by the US Army. Production of new Block III Apaches was planned to begin by 2010 when the current Apache models production work was set to expire.
Overall, Block III Apache is a combination of 25 technologies aimed at enhancing crew effectiveness in battle while reducing operations and support costs. Those technologies insertion will provide Network-Centric warfare capabilities in the multi-role combat helicopter for the Army's future force. To enable battlespace dominance, the program will incorporate open systems architecture, wideband network communications, extended range sensing, level IV unmanned aerial vehicle control, extended range fire control radar, extended range missiles, and data fusion to merge off- and on-board sensor imagery. In addition, the Block III Apache Longbow will interface with Stryker Brigade Combat Teams and Future Combat Systems with a fully compatible and rapidly reconfigurable open systems architecture mission processor design. Other key benefits to the US Army include a reduced logistics footprint, and improved readiness and deployability.
In July 2006, the US Army and Boeing signed a $619 million contract covering Block III AH-64D Apache Longbow program System Development and Demonstration (SDD). Under the terms of the SDD contract the US Army will see the first production Block III Apache in 2011. As of December 2013, the US Army's AH-64E program cost is estimated at $15.08 billion. The first Apache Block III, now AH-64E, achieved initial operational capability (IOC) with the US Army in October 2011. The US Army program calls for the procurement of 696 AH-64E aircraft including 639 re-manufactured and 57 new-build. The AH-64E is already a success in the export market with 190 aircraft ordered by several customers in the middle East and Asia.
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