The Ar­row in Apache’s Quiver

Vayu Aerospace and Defence - - Aviation & Defence Inindia - Sayan Ma­jum­dar

In an­tic­i­pa­tion of the im­pend­ing deal, the United States De­fence Se­cu­rity Co­op­er­a­tion Agency (DSCA) no­ti­fied Congress on 22 De­cem­ber, 2010 of a pos­si­ble For­eign Mil­i­tary Sale ( FMS) to the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia of var­i­ous en­gines, equip­ment, weapons, train­ing, parts and lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port for a pos­si­ble Di­rect Com­mer­cial Sale of 22 AH-64D Block III Apache he­li­copters, which was the only con­tender ul­ti­mately short listed. The com­plete pack­age is worth ap­prox­i­mately $1.4 bil­lion. The no­ti­fi­ca­tion was made in ad­vance so that, in the event that the AH-64D pro­posal was se­lected, the United States might move as quickly as pos­si­ble to im­ple­ment the sale. “The pro­posed sale is pro­jected to con­trib­ute to the for­eign pol­icy and na­tional se­cu­rity of the United States by help­ing to strengthen the US- In­dia strate­gic re­la­tion­ship and to im­prove the se­cu­rity of an im­por­tant part­ner (In­dia) which con­tin­ues to be an im­por­tant force for po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity, peace and eco­nomic progress in South Asia”, stated the re­lease. The at­tack he­li­copters later re­ferred to as AH-64E Guardian are set to en­ter In­dian Air Force (IAF) ser­vice 2019 on­wards.

“To dec­i­mate hos­tile ar­moured for­ma­tions and en­emy bunker and for­ti­fi­ca­tions,” the pack­age in­cludes 812 Lock­heed Martin AGM-114L-3 Long­bow Hell­fire Anti- Tank Guided Weapon (ATGW) plus 542 AGM-114R-3 Hell­fire II ATGWs. The Hell­fire name comes from its orig­i­nal role as a he­li­copter-launched fire and for­get weapon. The AGM-114L-3, or Long­bow Hell­fire, is a fire and for­get weapon equipped with a Mil­lime­tre Wave (MMW) radar seeker cou­pled with in­er­tial guid­ance, en­abling Lock on af­ter Launch (LOAL) ca­pa­bil­ity; very ef­fec­tive against hos­tile mul­ti­ple rolling ar­mour. The MMW radar also rec­ti­fies the in­her­ent lim­i­ta­tions of Semi-Ac­tive Laser Homing ( SALH) guid­ance sys­tem by pro­vid­ing ca­pa­bil­ity in ad­verse weather and bat­tle­field ob­scu­rants such as dust, smoke and fog be­ing able to mask the po­si­tion of the tar­get or to pre­vent the des­ig­nat­ing laser from pro­duc­ing a de­tectable re­flec­tion. Be­sides au­ton­o­mous homing on tar­gets des­ig­nated by the Long­bow Fire Con­trol sys­tem, the mis­sile can also use ad­vanced modes, cur­rently be­ing up­graded to the sys­tem, which pro­vide home-in on ac­tive jam­mers that try to de­grade or dis­able the mis­sile. The mis­sile will also re­ceive ad­vanced coun­ter­mea­sures to de­feat and can­cel jam­mers. The AGM- 114L- 3 Long­bow Hell­fire weighs 49-kg, in­clud­ing the 9-kg tan­dem shaped charge High Ex­plo­sive An­tiTank (HEAT) war­head, and has a range of 12-km against ar­moured for­ma­tions and for­ti­fied in­stal­la­tions. In the close sup­port anti-ar­mour role, the he­li­copter car­ries 16 AGM-114L-3 Long­bow Hell­fire ATGW on four four-rail launch­ers plus 4 Stinger Block I-92H Air-to-Air Mis­siles (AAM) for self-pro­tec­tion.

For ef­fec­tive fire con­trol and op­ti­mum util­i­sa­tion of AGM- 114L- 3 Long­bow Hell­fire, the AH-64D ‘Long­bow Apache’ is equipped with the Northrop Grum­man AN/APG-78 mil­lime­tre-wave Fire Con­trol Radar (FCR) ca­pa­ble of per­form­ing un­der poor-vis­i­bil­ity con­di­tions, less sen­si­tive to ground clut­ter, while the short wave­length al­lows a very nar­row beam width, which is re­sis­tant to Elec­tronic Counter Mea­sures ( ECM). AN/ APG- 78 ad­di­tion­ally, in­cor­po­rates an in­te­grated AN/APR-48A Radar Fre­quency In­ter­fer­om­e­ter for pas­sive lo­ca­tion and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of radar-emit­ting threats. The Long­bow Apache can ex­e­cute an at­tack in 30-sec­onds while re­main­ing be­hind nat­u­ral ter­rain if nec­es­sary with the radar dome atop the ro­tor blades un­masked for a sin­gle radar scan and then re­masked, en­abling the pro­ces­sors de­ter­mine the lo­ca­tion, speed and di­rec­tion of travel of a max­i­mum of 256 tar­gets.

Com­ple­ment­ing the AGM- 114L- 3 Long­bow Hell­fire will be the multi-pur­pose 8-km range AGM-114R or ‘Romeo’ that uses a Semi-Ac­tive Laser Homing (SALH) guid­ance sys­tem and an in­te­grated blast frag­men­ta­tion sleeve (IBFS) war­head likely built around tan­dem shaped charge HEAT to en­gage tar­gets that pre­vi­ously needed mul­ti­ple Hell­fire vari­ants. Hell­fire II locks on be­fore or af­ter launch and can en­gage mul­ti­ple tar­gets si­mul­ta­ne­ously. The mis­sile uses tra­jec­tory shap­ing to en­able op­ti­mal per­for­mance in de­graded weather along with au­to­matic tar­get reac­qui­si­tion af­ter loss of track in low clouds. The dig­i­tal au­topi­lot can be re­pro­grammed in flight, to home in on new tar­gets in when em­ployed in a LOAL mode. Equipped with elec­tro-op­ti­cal coun­ter­mea­sures hard­en­ing, the mis­sile is ca­pa­ble of op­er­at­ing with pulsed radar fre­quency or A-Code laser codes for those air­craft equipped with dual code ca­pa­bil­ity. AGM-114R weighs 50-kg and trav­els at a speed of Mach 1.3. Laser guid­ance can be pro­vided ei­ther from the launcher, such as the nose-mounted opto-elec­tron­ics of the AH- 64 Apache at­tack he­li­copter, other air­borne tar­get des­ig­na­tors or from ground based ob­servers, the lat­ter two op­tions al­low­ing the launcher to break line of sight with the tar­get and seek cover.

Lock­heed Martin has devel­oped the ‘ Ar­row­head’ tar­get­ing and night vi­sion sys­tem for the Apache, us­ing sec­ond­gen­er­a­tion long-wave In­fra Red (IR) sen­sors with im­proved range and res­o­lu­tion, and has a tar­get­ing For­ward Look­ing In­fra Red (FLIR) with three fields of view, a dual field-of-view FLIR, a Charged Cou­pled De­vice (CCD) TV cam­era, elec­tronic zoom, tar­get tracker and auto-bore­sight.

US Army’s AH-64D Long­bow Apache, the type soon in ‘In­dian’ colours

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