Apache — A Ver­sa­tile Ma­chine

The Apache fam­ily of at­tack he­li­copters is widely ac­cepted as the world’s most ad­vanced, ver­sa­tile and op­er­a­tionally proven multi-role, ro­tary-wing com­bat plat­form

SP's Aviation - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - BY AIR MAR­SHAL B.K. PANDEY (RETD)

“THE APACHE’S CA­PA­BIL­ITY SURPASSES PER­FOR­MANCE LEV­ELS OF MIL­I­TARY COM­BAT HE­LI­COPTERS IN SER­VICE OR ON THE DRAW­ING BOARD,” SAID JEFF KOHLER, VICE PRES­I­DENT, IN­TER­NA­TIONAL BUSI­NESS DE­VEL­OP­MENT, BOE­ING DE­FENSE, SPACE & SE­CU­RITY

IIN AU­GUST 2014, THE De­fence Ac­qui­si­tion Coun­cil (DAC) of the Min­istry of De­fence (MoD) fi­nally cleared the pro­posal by the Indian Air Force (IAF) for the ac­qui­si­tion of 22 AH-64D Apache at­tack he­li­copters at a cost of $1.4 bil­lion. The case for the ac­qui­si­tion of new and mod­ern at­tack he­li­copters was ini­ti­ated by the MoD in 2008. Af­ter a labyrinthine ten­der­ing process in­clud­ing rig­or­ous eval­u­a­tion by the IAF, the AH-64D Apache from the Boe­ing was se­lected from amongst the six plat­forms of­fered by global aero­space ma­jors that were in the race for the con­tract. Com­pet­ing with the AH-64D Apache were five other con­tenders, namely UH-60 Black Hawk from Siko­rsky, the AH-1 Su­per Co­bra from Bell He­li­copter, the EC-665 Tiger from Euro­copter, the A-129 Man­gusta from Agus­taWest­land and the Mil Mi-28 from Rus­sia. The AH-64D Apache was se­lected by the IAF from an ar­ray of highly suc­cess­ful mod­els of ro­tary-wing plat­forms from the world’s lead­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers of at­tack he­li­copters. The con­tract with Boe­ing was signed in Septem­ber 2015 with the de­liv­ery ex­pected to com­mence af­ter three years, i.e. in Septem­ber 2018 and the last he­li­copter is sched­uled to be de­liv­ered by March 2020. By the time the con­tract was signed, the AH-64D was re­placed by the newer model, the AH-64E. The con­tract has an op­tion for fol­low-on or­ders of an­other 11 of th­ese at­tack he­li­copters. In any case, there is a pro­posal to ac­quire an­other 39 of th­ese plat­forms for the Indian Army, tak­ing the to­tal in­duc­tion of Apaches by the Indian armed forces to 61. In­ci­den­tally, the fuse­lage of the AH-64E Apache at­tack he­li­copter is to be man­u­fac­tured by a joint ven­ture (JV) com­pany set up be­tween Boe­ing and the Tata Group in Hy­der­abad. The first fuse­lage for the Apache made in In­dia is ex­pected to be de­liv­ered by 2018. The JV will be ex­pected to build around 200 air­frame struc­tures for cus­tomers around the world as this Boe­ing-Tata JV will be the sole global sup­plier of fuse­lage for Apache at­tack he­li­copters.

The IAF has for some years been badly in need to aug­ment if not to­tally re­place its fleet of age­ing Mi-25 and Mi-35 at­tack he­li­copters ac­quired from the Soviet Union over three decades ago. The IAF is now ea­gerly look­ing forward to in­duct­ing the lat­est model of the Apache at­tack he­li­copter de­signed, de­vel­oped and man­u­fac­tured by the US aero­space ma­jor Boe­ing De­fense, Space & Se­cu­rity. Th­ese plat­forms will be armed with the lat­est and most po­tent weapon sys­tems such as the AGM-114L-3 Hell­fire Long­bow mis­siles, AGM-114R-3 Hell­fire-II mis­siles, Stinger Block I-92H mis­siles and 12 AN/APG-78 fire­con­trol radars among other as­sets. Equipped with an ar­ray of for­mi­da­ble ca­pa­bil­i­ties by way of avion­ics and weapon sys­tems, the fleet of 22 Apache AH-64E at­tack he­li­copters will en­able the IAF to pack a far greater punch in the em­ploy­ment of its ro­tary­wing fleet in the of­fen­sive role in the bat­tle­field or against ground tar­gets out­side it.

THE APACHE — A FOR­MI­DA­BLE PLAT­FORM

The Apache fam­ily of at­tack he­li­copters is widely ac­cepted as the world’s most ad­vanced and op­er­a­tionally proven, mul­ti­role, ro­tary-wing com­bat plat­form. Like sev­eral other US Army he­li­copters, this plat­form too has been named af­ter an Amer­i­can Indian tribe, the Apache. The very name in this case sug­gests an ag­gres­sive spirit and con­fi­dence in the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the plat­form as also in its other at­tributes such as mo­bil­ity, agility, flex­i­bil­ity, fire­power and en­durance. The Apache at­tack he­li­copter is a twin-en­gine, four-bladed plat­form that is op­er­ated by two pi­lots. As for its op­er­a­tional at­tributes, the Apache has a cruis­ing speed of 284 kmph and has scored high rat­ings for its ca­pa­bil­ity to carry heavy weapon loads and its ex­cep­tional abil­ity to ac­quire both fixed and mov­ing tar­gets on the ground. Its sev­eral vari­ants are cur­rently in ser­vice with the US Army as also with the armed forces of as many as 116 coun­tries across the globe. Some of the no­table ones amongst the long list of op­er­a­tors of the Apache fam­ily of at­tack he­li­copters are Ja­pan, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Saudi Ara­bia, Sin­ga­pore, Tai­wan, the United Arab Emi­rates, the Nether­lands and the United King­dom. The op­er­a­tors of this com­bat plat­form worldwide fly its three vari­ants — the AH64A Apache, the next-gen AH-64D Apache and the AH-64D

Apache Long­bow, which is equipped with the ad­vanced Long­bow fire con­trol radar. At the MSPO De­fence Ex­hi­bi­tion in the city of Kielce in Poland in Au­gust 2015, Jeff Kohler, Vice Pres­i­dent, In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment, Boe­ing De­fense, Space & Se­cu­rity, stated, “The Apache’s ca­pa­bil­ity surpasses the per­for­mance lev­els of any mil­i­tary com­bat he­li­copter in ser­vice or on the draw­ing board.”

BRIEF HIS­TORY OF THE APACHE

In 1976 the US Army se­lected the AH-64 Apache over the YAW 63 fielded by Bell He­li­copter. Hughes He­li­copters were ini­tially con­tracted by the US Gov­ern­ment for pro­duc­tion of the Apache. How­ever. this com­pany was taken over by McDon­nell Dou­glas in 1984. The rust AH-64D Apache Long-bow. a sub­stan­tially up­graded ver­sion of the orig­i­nal Apache. was de­liv­ered to the US Ar­ray in March 1997. Apache at­tack he­li­copters are now pro­duced by the Boe­ing De­fense. Space & Se­cu­rity. The Apache is also be­ing pro­duced un­der li­cence in the UK and is known as the Agusla West­land Apache. The Apache have been em­ployed by the US Army in the in Panama Pe­rian Gulf Kosovo Afghanistan and Iraq. head has s de­ployed the Apaches in mil­i­tary con­flicts in Le­banon and the Gera strip. The Apache Long­bow is the only com­bat he­li­copter in ser­vice with the abil­ity to rapidly de­tect. clar­ify pri­ori­tise and en­gage sta­tion­ary or mov­ing en­emy tar­gets at stand-off ranges in all weather con­di­tions. The Apache Long­bow's ad­vanced avion­ics suite gives com­bat plot an un­matched ad­van­tage over en­emy threats through the in­te­gra­tion of the Long­bow fire con­trol radar. ad­vanced Hell­fire mis­siles. and an ad­vanced avion­ics suite. The AH-64D Apache and the AR-64D Apache Long­bow have nu­mer­ous en­hance­ments sum-marised as un­der.

• En­hanced ac­cu­racy of weapons at longer ranges.

• All-weather day and night op­er­a­tions ca­pa­bil­ity.

• Clas­si­fi­ca­tion and threat-pri­ori­ti­sa­tion of up to 128 tar­gets in less than a minute.

• In­te­grated sen­sors net­work­ing and dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tions for bet­ter sit­u­a­tional aware­ness, man­age­ment of the com­bat arena in real time and dig­i­tal trans­mis­sion of im­ages and tar­get lo­cu­tions to joint op­er­a­tions bat­tle­field com­man­ders.

The ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the Apache Long­bow re sig-nif­i­cantly ad­vanced over those of the AH-61A model. Ibis was demon­strated by the orig­i­nal equip­ment man­u­fac­turer in test and field tri­als by the US Ar­ray m the pe­riod 1996-96.Tbe tests clearly demon­strated that the AH-64D Apache Long­bow at­tack he­li­copters were 400 per cent more lethal. i.e. bit­ting more tar­gets than the AH-64A whirl, had al­ready won the so­bri­quet of be­ing the most ca­pa­ble and ad­vanced at­tack he­li­copter in the world when it en­tered se­nior. AH-64D Apache Long­bow proved to have greater weapons ac­cu­racy at longer ranges and the abil­ity to op­er­ate more ef­fec­tively at night and in virtu-ally any weather. The Apache Long­bow's ad­vanced commu-nica­tions and com­bat ca­pa­bil­i­ties. its abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate dig­i­tally with other eir­craf V ground forces and to share that in­for­ma­tion al­most in stept . give the AH-64D a sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tage over cur­rent com­bat he­li­copters and pro­vides bat-tk field com­man­ders the abil­ity to more ef­fec­tively man­age the 21st cen­tury bat­tle­field. Cur­rently. the US Army op­er­ates the A14-61E. the lat­est model of the Apache.lbe E model that is also known as Guard-ians. pro­vides the US Army with the most ad­vanced avion­ics and most pow­er­ful en­gines to date on the at­tack he­li­copter.

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