What’s in­side the AH-64E Apache for In­dia?

SP's MAI - - SP’S EXCLUSIVES -

The AH-64E Apache Long­bow at­tack he­li­copter that In­dia has con­tracted 22 of is pos­si­bly the world’s most ad­vanced he­li­copter of its kind. The re-des­ig­nated AH-64D Block III will ar­rive in an un­spec­i­fied mix of Long­bow and non-Long­bow con­fig­u­ra­tions and will form two he­li­copter units within the In­dian Air Force (IAF). The stand-out fea­tures of the Block III as com­pared to ear­lier vari­ants of the leg­endary plat­form in­clude an all com­pos­ite ro­tor (with a 6-inch ex­ten­sion), which pro­vides a life-saving in­creased hover out of ground ef­fect (HOGE) ca­pa­bil­ity. The IAF has been shown that this prin­ci­pally trans­lates into a 540 lbs higher pay­load car­ry­ing ca­pa­bil­ity dur­ing HOGE. Sport­ing un­prece­dented blade tip ero­sion pro­tec­tion, the com­pos­ite blades come with in­crease re­li­a­bil­ity of 10,000 cal­cu­lated fatigue life and a 4,000 MTBR—all qual­i­ties cru­cial to the IAF.

The AH-64E is a mod­ernised tar­get ac­qui­si­tion and des­ig­na­tion sys­tem (MTADS) that in­cludes a day/night sight and laser des­ig­na­tor. Its pi­lot night vi­sion sen­sor has a hel­met-mounted in­frared view with full pi­lot sym­bol­ogy—gear so far never used by In­dian chop­per pi­lots. The Block III, of course, comes with a full in-flight re­fu­elling ca­pa­bil­ity – the Apaches will be re­fu­ellable even from the IAF’s C-130Js if nec­es­sary. Crash­wor­thy ex­ter­nal fuel tanks beef up the Block III’s en­durance and time on op­er­a­tion in ad­di­tion to aux­il­iary in­ter­nal fuel tank. This in­ter­nal fuel tank re­places a 1,200 round ammo pack with an ad­di­tional 100 gal­lons of fuel and 300 rounds of 30mm for the M230 chain gun. Add to that range some ex­tended brute force: four wing-mounted weapon sta­tions for up to 16 Hell­fire mis­siles, up to 76 rock­ets and the ca­pa­bil­ity to add laser des­ig­nated rock­ets too.

The AH-54E that In­dia will in­duct sports a com­bat mis­sion speed of 164 knots and com­bat range of 260 nau­ti­cal miles. It has a com­bat en­durance of 2.5 hours. Cru­cial to the new ‘E’ is an im­proved, souped up en­gine. The T700-GE-701D en­gines now sport an en­hanced dig­i­tal elec­tronic con­trol unit (EDECU), which brings with it im­proved sys­tem re­li­a­bil­ity and re­duced op­er­at­ing costs. The new ar­range­ment is dual en­gine con­tin­gency ca­pa­ble and brings in­creased power at 35 de­grees Cel­sius. A new fire­wall data ca­ble is in­cor­po­rated, while en­gine in­di­ca­tions are now mul­ti­plex sig­nals. A sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved hot and high per­for­mance as a re­sult of the re­jigged en­gine as­sem­bly means the he­li­copter’s per­for­mance could be well-tuned for trop­i­cal clime oper­a­tions. The split torque face gear trans­mis­sion is the heart of a hugely im­proved drive sys­tem on the E vari­ant of the Apache. Apart from con­tribut­ing to the boosted hot and high per­for­mance, it also brings with it an in­creased power ca­pa­bil­ity to 3,500 shaft HP and a re­li­a­bil­ity jump of a meaty 130 per cent. An im­proved nose gear-

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