Are you Ready for an Elite Ex­pe­ri­ence?

The AH-64 Apache is the only com­bat he­li­copter in ser­vice with the abil­ity to rapidly de­tect, clas­sify, pri­ori­tise and en­gage sta­tion­ary or mov­ing en­emy tar­gets at stand­off ranges in all­weather con­di­tions

SP's Aviation - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - By RO­HIT SRI­VAS­TAVA

In 1976, the US Army se­lected the AH-64 Apache over the YAH 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 first AH-64D Apache, a sub­stan­tially up­graded ver­sion of the orig­i­nal AH-64 Apache, was de­liv­ered to the US Army in March 1997. AH-64 Apache at­tack heli­copters are now pro­duced by the Boe­ing De­fense, Space & Se­cu­rity. The AH-64 Apache is also be­ing pro­duced un­der li­cence in the UK and is known as the Agus­taWest­land Apache. The AH-64 Apaches have been em­ployed by the US Army in the con­flicts in Panama, Per­sian Gulf, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. Is­rael has also de­ployed the Apaches in mil­i­tary con­flicts in Le­banon and the Gaza Strip.

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 AH-64 Apache at­tack he­li­copter is a twinengine, four-bladed plat­form that is op­er­ated by two pilots. As for its op­er­a­tional at­tributes, the AH-64 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.

The AH-64 Apache is the only com­bat he­li­copter in ser­vice with the abil­ity to rapidly de­tect, clas­sify, pri­ori­tise and en­gage sta­tion­ary or mov­ing en­emy tar­gets at stand­off ranges in all­weather con­di­tions. The AH-64 Apache’s ad­vanced avion­ics suite gives com­bat pilots an un­matched ad­van­tage over en­emy threats through the in­te­gra­tion of the Long­bow fire con­trol radar, ad­vanced Hell­fire mis­siles, and an ad­vanced avion­ics suite.

Ac­cord­ing to Boe­ing, “More than 2,300 Boe­ing-made Apache heli­copters are op­er­ated by cus­tomers around the world since the air­craft en­tered pro­duc­tion. The United States Army Apache fleet alone has ac­cu­mu­lated more than 4.3 mil­lion flight hours, in­clud­ing more than 1.2 mil­lion in com­bat, as of Jan­uary 2018. The he­li­copter has been fielded or se­lected for ac­qui­si­tion by the armed forces of 16 coun­tries, in­clud­ing In­dia.” Other na­tions who have bought Apache are Egypt, Greece, In­done­sia, Is­rael, Ja­pan, South Korea, Kuwait, Nether­lands, Qatar, Saudi Ara­bia, Singapore, United Arab Emi­rates, United King­dom and the United States.

WHY APACHE FOR IN­DIA?

Con­sid­ered as one of the world’s best at­tack chop­per, in league of its own, the AH-64 Apache, when in­ducted, will give a ma­jor flip to In­dian Air Forces’ (IAF) anti-ar­mour ca­pa­bil­ity. As re­ported ear­lier by SP’s Avi­a­tion, 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.

On June 12, United States ap­proved “direct com­mer­cial sale of six (6) AH-64E Apache heli­copters for an es­ti­mated cost of $930 mil­lion.” The sale will come through For­eign Mil­i­tary Sale (FMS) route. The ap­proval for the chop­pers was no­ti­fied by the De­fense Se­cu­rity Co­op­er­a­tion Agency (DSCA) of the US Depart­ment of de­fence to the US Congress. In Au­gust 2017, In­dian Min­istry of De­fence gave its ap­proval for the pur­chase. These six chop­pers are in ad­di­tion to the 22 AH-64D Block III Apache that were ap­proved for sale to In­dia in 2010 for $1.4 bil­lion.

In Septem­ber 2015, In­dia placed or­der for the 22 of these heli­copters to Boe­ing which is ex­pected to be­gin de­liv­er­ies some­time next year. Ac­cord­ing to a DSCA press state­ment of June 12, the In­dian gov­ern­ment, along with he­li­copter, has asked for “four­teen (14) T700-GE-701D en­gines; four (4) AN/APG-78 Fire Con­trol Radars; four (4) Radar Elec­tronic Units (REU) Block III; four (4) AN/APR-48B Mod­ernised Radar Fre­quency In­ter­fer­om­e­ters (M-RFI’s); one hun­dred eighty (180) AGM-114L-3 Hell­fire Long­bow mis­siles; ninety (90) AGM-114R-3 Hell­fire II mis­siles; two hun­dred (200) Stinger Block I-92H mis­siles; seven (7) Mod­ern­ized Tar­get Ac­qui­si­tion Des­ig­na­tion Sight/ Pi­lot Night Vi­sion Sen­sors (MTADS-PNVS); and four­teen (14) Em­bed­ded GPS In­er­tial Nav­i­ga­tion Sys­tems (EGI). Also in­cluded are rock­ets, train­ing and dummy mis­siles, 30mm can­nons and am­mu­ni­tion, transpon­ders, sim­u­la­tors, com­mu­ni­ca­tion equip­ment, spare and re­pair parts, tools and test equip­ment, sup­port equip­ment, re­pair and re­turn sup­port, per­son­nel train­ing and train­ing equip­ment, publi­ca­tions and tech­ni­cal doc­u­men­ta­tion, US Gov­ern­ment and con­trac­tor engi­neer­ing and lo­gis­tics sup­port ser­vices, and other re­lated el­e­ments of lo­gis­tic and pro­gram sup­port.”

Sim­i­larly, the 22 AH-64D will come with “812 AGM-114L-3 Hell­fire Long­bow mis­siles, 542 AGM-114R-3 HELL­FIRE II mis­siles, 245 STINGER Block I-92H mis­siles, and 23 Mod­ernised Tar­get Ac­qui­si­tion Des­ig­na­tion Sight/Pi­lot Night Vi­sion Sen­sors, rock­ets, train­ing and dummy mis­siles, 30mm am­mu­ni­tion.”

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.

MADE IN IN­DIA FUSE­LAGE

On June 1, Tata Boe­ing Aero­space Lim­ited (TBAL), a joint ven­ture be­tween Boe­ing and Tata Ad­vanced Sys­tems Ltd (TASL), de­liv­ered the “first AH-64 Apache fuse­lage ahead of sched­ule” from its man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity in Hy­der­abad. The state-of-theart fa­cil­ity was in­au­gu­rated by De­fence Min­is­ter Nir­mala Sithara­man on March 1. While in­au­gu­rat­ing, Sithara­man had said, “The man­u­fac­tur­ing of ad­vanced de­fence plat­forms and be­ing in­te­grated with the com­plex global sup­ply chain will help our aero­space in­dus­try ac­quire tech­nol­ogy, build lo­cal ca­pa­bil­ity, pro­vide em­ploy­ment and be­come a global ex­porter.”

Talk­ing on the de­liv­ery of the fuse­lage, Pratyush Ku­mar, pres­i­dent, Boe­ing In­dia said, “This is a ma­jor step for­ward in Boe­ing and Tata Ad­vanced Sys­tems’ con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to make ad­vanced, high qual­ity aerostruc­tures in In­dia. “Our in­vest­ments in tech­nol­ogy, ca­pa­bil­ity and skilling are clearly pay­ing off as ev­i­dent from the qual­ity and speed at which this de­liv­ery mile­stone has been achieved. As we ac­cel­er­ate our ef­forts, we see this as a ma­jor step to­wards fu­ture op­por­tu­ni­ties to pur­sue the co-devel­op­ment of in­te­grated sys­tems in aero­space and de­fence.”

“The de­liv­ery of the fuse­lage within a year of the fa­cil­ity be­ing op­er­a­tional is a huge boost to indige­nous man­u­fac­tur­ing and also demon­strates our com­mit­ment to de­liver high qual­ity prod­ucts within a short span of time,” said Sukaran Singh, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer, TASL.

Ac­cord­ing to Boe­ing, the fa­cil­ity is “spread over 14,000-square me­ters and em­ploy­ing 350 highly skilled work­ers, the fa­cil­ity will be the sole global pro­ducer of fuse­lages for AH-64 Apache he­li­copter de­liv­ered by Boe­ing to its global cus­tomers in­clud­ing the US Army. The fa­cil­ity will also pro­duce sec­ondary struc­tures and ver­ti­cal spar boxes of this multi-role com­bat he­li­copter. The de­liv­ery of the first fuse­lage is ex­pected in 2018.”

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