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  • Boeing / Hughes AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter

    Despite a first flight in 1975, the Boeing AH-64 Apache is still a highly-advanced attack helicopter over the modern battlefield.

     Updated: 3/29/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    The Hughes / McDonnell Douglas / Boeing AH-64 Apache has served American and allied military forces well during her storied operational tenure which officially began in 1986. She went on to see extensive combat actions throughout the 1980s and 1990s across conflicts such as Panama (Operation Just Cause), the Persian Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm) and the Kosovo War as well as more recently being tied to operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Apache is a proven war-winner, having displayed her tank-killing prowess in the Persian Gulf War against the once-formidable armored formations of Saddam Hussein. The Apache family line has amassed over 3 million hours of flight time since its first prototype flight and production of new airframes is still ongoing as of this writing. Over 2,000 Apache attack helicopters have been produced and it is expected that modernization efforts will keep the Apache a viable battlefield implement up through 2020.

    The Hughes Name

    Hughes Helicopters began operations in 1947 as part of the Hughes Aircraft firm - owned by legendary businessman and aviator Howard Hughes. Hughes Helicopters then came under the Hughes Tool Company in 1955 and was formed into Hughes Helicopter Division as part of the Summa Corporation in 1972. Summa Corporation was started by Howard Hughes after the sale of his Hughes Tool Company that same year (the tool company itself would eventually emerge as "Baker Hughes"). In 1981, Howard Hughes created Hughes Helicopters, Incorporated and, while the AH-64 Apache began life under the "Hughes Helicopters" brand label, the company ultimately became a subsidiary of aviation giant McDonnell Douglas in 1984 and therefore known as McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems. In turn, McDonnell Douglas was merged with The Boeing Company in 1997 to become a subsidiary. Today, the AH-64 Apache is formally branded under the Boeing Defense, Space & Security name - or Boeing for short.

    The Attack Helicopter

    Despite the changing face of the modern battlefield, the attack helicopter has proven time and again to be a critical component to any land-based action. The Vietnam War proved this for the US Army, where transport helicopters were being armed with rockets, cannons, grenade launchers and machine guns and successfully affecting battle outcomes when called. The two-seat Bell AH-1 Cobra dedicated attack helicopter series debuted during the latter stages of the war and further drove home the point through use of rocket pods, triple-barrel cannon, automatic grenade launcher and guided TOW missiles. As attack helicopters are primarily charged with combat actions at low altitudes close to ground fire and other dangers, it becomes highly susceptible to enemy ground fire and thusly viewed as more "fragile" when compared to high-altitude, high-speed fixed-wing aircraft mounts. Despite the ability for strike aircraft to deliver precision weapons at altitude, modern armies still must rely on the precision nature and hovering capabilities of attack helicopters for strike aircraft operate at high speeds and lack adequate loitering times. Thusly, attack helicopters still form a large part of the success of a modern ground force.

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    Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1986
    Type: Attack Helicopter
    National Origin: United States
    Manufacturer(s): Hughes / Boeing / McDonnell Douglas - USA; AgustaWestland - UK
    Production Total: 2,268

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 2
    Length: 49.11 feet (14.97 meters)
    Width: 48.00 feet (14.63 meters)
    Height: 16.24 feet (4.95 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 11,799 lb (5,352 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 22,282 lb (10,107 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 2 x General Electric T700-GE-701C turboshaft engines developing 1,890 shaft horsepower and driving a four-blade main and two-blade double tail rotor.

    Maximum Speed: 183 mph (295 kph; 159 knots)
    Maximum Range: 298 miles (480 km)
    Service Ceiling: 20,997 feet (6,400 meters; 3.98 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 2,415 feet-per-minute (736 m/min)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    1 x 30mm Hughes chain gun in chin position.

    Four underwing hardpoints and two wing stub endpoints for various mission specific ordnance including:

    16 x AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missiles
    4 x Hydra-70 2.75in 19-Shot FFAR (Folding-Fin Aerial Rocket) rocket pods
    2 x AIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missiles in ATAS twin missile mount launchers.
    4 x Auxiliary Fuel Tanks

    4 x AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles
    4 x Sidearm anti-radiation missiles

    Global Operators / Customers

    Egypt; Greece; India; Indonesia; Israel; Japan; Kuwait; Netherlands; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Singapore; South Korea; Taiwan; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom; United States

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    Model 77 - Hughes Developmental Designation

    YAH-64 - US Army Protoype Model Designation for AAH program

    AH-64A Apache - Initial production designation; General Electric T700-GE-701 turboshaft engines of 1,696 shaft horsepower.

    AH-64B Apache - Proposed Improved Apache; all-new rotor blades, improved communications, integrated GPS; cancelled in 1992.

    AH-64C Apache - Proposed Improved Apache; designation dropped in 1993; changes included in existing AH-64A and newer AH-64D models to follow.

    AH-64D Apache - Similar to AH-64C model with introduction of removable radar.

    AH-64D "Apache Longbow" - Updated engines (General Electric T700-GE-701C of 1,890 shaft horsepower); noticeable radome (Fire Control Radar - FCR - target acquisition system) on top of main rotor mast; updated navigation and comunications; improved crew survivability; integrated radio-based moden for multiple target tracking; planned UAV support function; further systems digitization.

    AH-64E "Guardian" - AH-64D Block III production models; 2 x General Electric T700-701D 2,000shp engines, composite main rotor, VNsight low-level TV, revised landing gear legs; improved data sharing; integrated UAV control.

    AH-64F - Proposed U.S. Army bridge model for legacy AH-64 and Future Vertical lift program.

    WAH-64A Apache - British production model of AH-64A Apache models under license from Boeing production through AgustaWestland.

    WAH-64D Apache - British production model of AH-64D Apache models under license from Boeing; production through AgustaWestland.

    AH Mk 1 - British Army Designation of WAH-64

    "Sea Apache" - Proposed US Marine navalized version of land-based Apache featuring specialized suite of weapons and avionics systems; redesigned landing gears; never ordered nor produced.

    "Peten" (Cobra) - Israeli Army AH-64A Apache Designation

    "Saraph" (Serpent) - Israeli Army AH-64D Apache Designation

    AH-64DJP - Japanese designation of AH-64A production models