The AH-64 Apache was first flown on September 30, 1975. Considered an attack helicopter, the apache, which is a four-blade helicopter, features a twin engine and reverse-tricycle landing gear. The cockpit holds a crew of two. The Apache first entered into the service in 1984 and is well equipped with an integrated helmet and display sight system, which permits the AH-64 to operate any time of the day or night and in any type of weather condition.
The AH-64 Apache also features a sensor suite for target acquisition, black hole passive infrared counter measures as well as an earth navigation and GPS system. Armament for the Apache includes a 30 mm M230 Chain Gun, which is located between the helicopter’s main landing gear, Hydra 70 FFAR rockets and a combination of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles and AIM-92 Stinger missiles. The AH-64 Apache is built to withstand even the harsh conditions of the front-lines.
The first Apache was developed and manufactured by Hughes Helicopters and created specifically for the US Army’s Advanced Attack Helicopter program. This new helicopter was designed to replace the AH-1 Cobra. In 1984, McDonnell Douglas assumed production when it purchased Hughes Helicopters from the Summa Corporation.
Over 1,000 AH-64 Apaches have been produced, and while the primary operator of this helicopter remains the US Army, it has also been utilized as a primary attack helicopter by several other nations including the UK, the Netherlands, Israel and Japan.
The US Army began deploying the AH-64 to Europe in 1987 where it participated in large military exercises. The helicopter saw its first combat in 1989 when the US invaded Panama in Operation Just Cause. It has further participated in more than 240 hours of attack combat – primarily at night. The AH-64 has also served in Operation Desert Storm, the Balkans, Iraq and are currently utilized by the US Army in Afghanistan.
- Maximum take-off weight: 17,650 lbs.
- Maximum speed: 158 knots (or 182 mph)
- Cruise speed: 143 knots (or 165 mph)
- Range: 257 nautical miles
- Combat radius of 260 nautical miles
- Service ceiling of 21,000 ft. with minimum load
- Climb rate: 2,500 feet per minute
The AH-64 Apache helicopter remains a popular attack helicopter in the US military as well as other forces around the world.