AH-64 Longbow Apache Attack Helicopter

The AH-64A Apache Attack Helicopter was developed by McDonnell Douglas, a company that was acquired by Boeing. It entered service with the US Army in 1984 and about 800 Apaches are in Army inventory (2005). More than 1,000 AH-64 Apaches have been exported by 2005. The AH-64D Apache Longbow is the Army's modernization of the Apache fleet to the Block III configuration (see below), entering service in 1998. The AH-64 is air transportable in the C-5, C-141 and C-17.

HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter hoists aboard a Utah Army National Guard soldier from the 19th Special Forces during a combat search and rescue integration exercise, Utah Test and Training Range, Sandy, Utah, 3 May 2007
HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter hoists aboard a Utah Army National Guard soldier from the 19th Special Forces during a combat search and rescue integration exercise, Utah Test and Training Range, Sandy, Utah, 3 May 2007.

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AH-64 Apache Longbow Attack Helicopter

The AH-64D Longbow Apache Attack Helicopter is a two-engine, four-bladed, tandem seat, attack helicopter, armed with a 30mm cannon, 2.75 in. rockets, and Hellfire missiles, the Army heavy attack helicopter. It is capable of conducting the full spectrum of operations from stability and support to major combat in warfare. It conducts the missions of armed reconnaissance, close combat, mobile strike, and vertical maneuver when required in day, night, obscured battlefield and adverse weather conditions, in support of the joint/combined arms commander's scheme of maneuver. It is equipped with a target acquisition designation sight (TADS), laser range finder/designator (LRF/D), and a pilot night vision sensor (PNVS) that allow the two-man crew to navigate and attack at night and in adverse weather conditions at extended standoff ranges. The Apache has a full range of aircraft survivability equipment and can withstand hits from rounds as large 23 millimeters in critical areas.

AH-64D Longbow Apache Block III

Early model AH-64D Apache Attack Helicopters had upgraded engines but did not have the AN/APG-78 Longbow Fire Control Radar. With the addition of the radar, the "Longbow" designation was added to the name. The first Apache Longbow unit also became the first to field the Interactive Electronic Technical Manual, a revolutionary Class IV computerized data storage system that enables multiple fault troubleshooting, configuration management, and eliminates the need for paper technical manuals. U.S. Army AH-64D Apache Longbows flew in combat for the first time during Operation Iraqi Freedom in early 2003.

The AH-64D Longbow Block III addresses the critical capability gaps in the areas of aircraft performance, digital interoperability, operations & support, multi-spectral sensors, and cognitive decision aiding. These capability gaps are being addressed through the incorporation of hardware and software technology insertions into the aircraft. The Army will initially re-manufacture its Block I Longbow Apaches into the Block III configuration, followed by its Block II Longbow Apaches. The first deliveries of Block III will be in 2010, with the first unit equipped in 2011.

AH-64D Block III is a network centric, multi-role weapon system, fully interoperable with joint, current, and future force systems. It is linked to joint and combined arms air/ground maneuver teams via Open System Architecture and advanced, line-of-sight/beyond-line-of-sight, voice and digital communications. It operates in support of Brigade Combat Teams to enable the air-ground synergy required for armed reconnaissance, mobile strike, close combat, and vertical maneuver missions in the contemporary operating environment. Additionally, Block III conducts shaping operations, enables precision engagement, and provides actionable combat information. It will be more deployable and sustainable due to enhanced reliability, improved diagnostics, and reduced logistical footprint and tail.

AH-64 Longbow Apache Attack Helicopter Specifications and Performance

  AH-64A AH-64D
Rotor diameter 48 ft. 48 ft.
Length 58 ft. 4 in. 58 ft. 4 in.
Height 15 ft. 3 in. 13 ft. 4 in.
Weight 21,000 lb. loaded 23,000 lb. loaded
Armament M230 30mm chain gun, Hellfire, Sidewinder & other missiles Same
Engines Two 1,690shp T700-GE-701 Two 1,890shp T700-GE-701C
Maximum speed 227 mph 227 mph
Cruise speed 165 mph 165 mph
Combat radius * 300 mi. max 300 mi. max
Service ceiling 21,000 ft. 21,000 ft.

* Range is affected by armament.

AH-64A Apache helicopter is winched down the ramp of a National Guard C-5 Galaxy at Eielson Air Force Base, AK, 6 February 1998
AH-64A Apache helicopter is winched down the ramp of a National Guard C-5 Galaxy at Eielson Air Force Base, AK, 6 February 1998.

AH-64A of the Arizona Army National Guard 1-285th Attack Helicopter Battalion
AH-64A of the Arizona Army National Guard 1-285th Attack Helicopter Battalion.

AH-64D of the Arizona Army National Guard 1-285th Attack Helicopter Battalion
AH-64D of the Arizona Army National Guard 1-285th Attack Helicopter Battalion.

Flight line of AH-64D Longbow Apache Attack Helicopters
Flight line of AH-64D Longbow Apache Attack Helicopters.

AH-64D Apache Longbow maiden flight, Mesa, AZ, 17 March 1997
AH-64D Apache Longbow maiden flight, Mesa, AZ, 17 March 1997.

A pair of AH-64D Longbow Apache helicopters from 1st Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment (Fort Campbell, KY) returning from a combat mission to Forward Operating Base Speicher, Iraq, 22 October 2005
A pair of AH-64D Longbow Apache helicopters from 1st Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment (Fort Campbell, KY) returning from a combat mission to Forward Operating Base Speicher, Iraq, 22 October 2005.