The AH-64 Apache, is one of the Army’s finest Attack Helicopters (i.e. AH-##) whose missions are centric to anti-armor, close air support, reconnaissance and air to air combat. At an overall length (measuring rotor blade to aft rotor blade) of 57’-8”, this 2 man-piloted helicopter can reach speeds in excess of 197 knots, or 226 MPH!
The most noticeable of the AH-64 Apache features is a nose-mounted sensor which is suited for target acquisition and night vision systems. Its simple armament begins with a 30-millimeter (1.2 in) M230 Chain Gun carried between the main landing gear, under the aircraft’s forward fuselage. This 30-mm can carry a max pay load of 1200 rounds and is effective out to 4000m.
It also has four hard-points mounted on “stub-wing” pylons, typically carrying a mixture of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70 rocket pods. An Apache can typically carry 16 Hellfire-laser guided missiles (which can reach out to 8000m), 76x 2.75” FFAR (with a max range of 9000m) and finally, 2 each of the Stinger and Sidewinder air-to-air missiles which range 1km out to 18 miles!
The AH-64 has a large amount of systems redundancy to improve combat survivability. For an attack helicopter, it has an impressive 1hr-50 min flight time to keep it on the move longer. The actual crew compartment has shielding between each cockpit, such that at least one crew member can survive a hit. The compartment and the rotor blades are designed to sustain a hit from 23-millimeter (0.91 in) rounds. The fuselage includes some 2,500 pounds of protection and has a “self-sealing fuel system” to protect against small arms ballistics. The aircraft was designed to meet the crashworthiness requirements of MIL-STD-1290,which specifies minimum requirement for crash impact energy attenuation to minimize crew injuries and fatalities.
Coupled with its survivability and armament capabilities, the AH-64 Apache has some of the most technologically advanced sighting and target acquisition systems known to our modern military. The most impressive of these is the integral “helmet mounted display” which allows the pilots to utilize the interior of their helmet shield as a target display screen. It also features many more tricks up its sleeve such as ground-target acquisition systems, heat sensors displays, etc.
The AH-64 Apache has been proudly serving our Army since 1984 and continues to be upgraded (i.e. AH-64D Longbow Apache currently in service) and has a bright future projected for years to come.