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AH-64 Apache

Country of Origin: USA


Multi-Stage Improvement Program (MSIP)

Initiated by McDonnell Douglas in 1984, the mission expansion phase involves incorporating selected upgrades into the existing aircraft design. Subsequently, the mission-effectiveness phase represents a comprehensive overhaul or virtual aircraft makeover.

Mission Expansion (ME) phase

During the Mission Expansion (ME) phase, aircraft undergo the installation of the Collins CP-1516/ASQ automatic target hand-off system (ATHS), pronounced as...


The AH-64C was a proposed designation for AH-64 helicopters, aiming to bring them close to the AH-64D standard. This version was essentially similar to the AH-64D, with the exception of lacking the radar mast and retaining older engines. However, this designation was abandoned in 1993, and all U.S. Army Apaches were subsequently designated as AH-64D.

AH-64E Apache Guardian/AH-64D Block III

The AH-64E Apache Guardian, also known as AH-64D Block III, underwent significant enhancements in its Block III iteration, encompassing 25 technology insertions primarily focused on network-centric capabilities. These improvements enable the helicopter to interface with Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (SBCTs) and the Future Combat System (FCS).

Notable upgrades include open systems architecture, an extended-range Longbow radar, enhanced missile armament, Level IV UAV control capability, and data fusion for integrating imagery from onboard and remote sensor systems.

The goal of these upgrades is to provide the AH-64D with the same power, performance, and landing abilities as the original A model. The adoption of an open architecture electronics system facilitates seamless integration of future systems, with an emphasis on improved hot-and-high performance.

The AH-64E boasts the distinction of being the first Army rotorcraft capable of hovering at 6,000 ft (1,828 m) with a full mission payload. It achieves a combat speed of 189 mph (304 kph), surpassing the Apache Longbow by approximately 23 mph (37 kph), and demonstrates improved agility. Additionally, the AH-64E is designed for remote operation of unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Block III enhancement plan unfolded in phases. The first phase (2011-2013) featured T700-GE-701D engines, an improved driveshaft, composite main rotor blades, and a new radar electronics unit, contributing to a speed increase from 140 mph to 180 mph (140 to 289 kph). The second phase (2014-2015) introduced the Link 16 digital data link, while the third phase (after 2016) incorporated cognitive decision aids for pilot workload, a multimode laser sensor for the gun turret, and a maritime mode for the Longbow fire-control radar.

Procurement plans outlined 12 Block III upgrades in fiscal 2009, 38 in fiscal 2010, and 60 in fiscal 2011, with a total of 690 Block III Apaches expected to be acquired by the Army.

The AH-64E features a manned-unmanned team (MUMT) drone controller data link, enabling the co-pilot to remotely control and receive data from an MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle. The Apache crew can also manually control the drone for target lasing or launching the UAV's Hellfire missiles.

Further enhancements in Lot 4 (2017) included external crashworthy fuel tanks, software upgrades, and integration of the Link 16 tactical data link for enhanced data-sharing and networking with friendly forces. Lot 6 enhancements featured updated fire-control systems capable of identifying and targeting ships at sea, along with a ground-fire acquisition system for automatic response to battlefield threats. The computer software was upgraded with a cognitive decision-aiding system aimed at easing routine piloting tasks.

AH-64F Apache

The AH-64F was proposed in 2014 before the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) was introduced. The aircraft was conceptualized to have enhanced speed, utilizing a 3,000 shp turboshaft engine, retractable landing gear, and stub wings.

The program was canceled in 2016 in pursuit of the FVL program.

WAH-64D/AH Mk 1

The British army's version of the Apache, designated WAH-64D/AH Mk 1, is assembled by GKN Westland and shares similarities with the U.S. AH-64Ds, featuring Longbow and comparable electronics. A key distinction lies in its propulsion, equipped with two Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca RTM322 turboshafts. The British Apache employs Shorts Starstreaks for air-to-air operations, Canadian CRV-7 rocket pods for unguided rockets, and a combination of Hellfire II and Longbow Hellfires for anti-tank and precision fire missions. The initial eight British Apaches were constructed in the U.S., with the remaining units assembled at Westland's facility in Yeovil.

Additional equipment on British Apaches includes Sanders' advanced threat infrared countermeasures (ATIRCM), Lockheed Martin APR48A radar frequency interferometer, and the GEC-Marconi helicopter integrated defensive aids suite (HIDAS). HIDAS provides warnings to Apache crews regarding incoming radar and laser signals, as well as launches of infrared and radar-homing missiles.

As outlined in the United Kingdom's 1998 Strategic Review, the 3rd Regiment, 4th Regiment, and 9th Regiment of the British Army Air Corps would be equipped with 16 Apache Longbows and eight existing Lynx battlefield support helicopters. These units were intended for deployment in the north of England and used as an Air Maneuver Formation (AMF) to support the British army's 24th Airmobile Brigade.

There was a prospect of a naval version of the WAH-64D for the British to support the Royal Marines' 3rd Commando Brigade. This variant would feature a folding tail boom and main rotor. Eight of the 64 Apaches ordered for the British Army Air Corps were designated for dual service by the Royal Marines, replacing the AH Mk 7s Lynx helicopters that currently provide fire support for the Royal Marine 3rd Commando Brigade.

The United Kingdom is also exploring the potential for joint operations and logistical support for their WAH-64s in collaboration with the Netherlands.

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