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The Boeing AH-64 Apache is a four-blade, twin-engine attack helicopter with tail wheel-type landing gear arrangement, and tandem cockpit for a crew of two. The Apache was developed as Model 77 by Hughes Helicopters for the United States Army's Advanced Attack Helicopter program to replace the AH-1 Cobra. First flown on 30 September 1975, the AH-64 features a nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems. The Apache is armed with a 30-millimetre (1.2 in) M230 Chain Gun carried between the main landing gear, under the aircraft's forward fuselage. The AH-64 also carries a mixture of AGM-114 Hellfire and Hydra 70 rocket pods on four hardpoints mounted on stub-wing pylons. The AH-64 also features double- and triple-redundant aircraft systems to improve survivability for the aircraft and crew in combat, as well as improved crash survivability for the pilots.

The U.S. Army selected the AH-64 over the Bell YAH-63 in 1976, awarding Hughes Helicopters a pre-production contract for two more aircraft. In 1982, the Army approved full production. McDonnell Douglas continued production and development after purchasing Hughes Helicopters from Summa Corporation in 1984. The first production AH-64D Apache Longbow, a greatly upgraded version of the original Apache, was delivered to the Army in March 1997. AH-64 production is continued by the Boeing Defence, Space & Security division; over one thousand AH-64s have been produced to date.

The U.S. Army is the primary operator of the AH-64, however it has also become the primary attack helicopter of several nations it has been exported to, including the United Kingdom, Israel, Japan, Greece and the Netherlands. U.S. AH-64s have served in conflicts in Panama, Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Israel has made active use of the Apache in its military conflicts in Lebanon and Gaza Strip; while two coalition allies have deployed their AH-64s in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Following the cancellation of the AH-56 Cheyenne in 1972, in favour of United States Air Force and Marine Corps projects like the A-10 Thunderbolt II and Harrier Jump Jet, the United States Army sought an aircraft to fill an anti-armour attack role that would still be under Army command; the 1948 Key West Agreement forbade the Army from owning fixed-wing aircraft. The Army wanted an aircraft better than the AH-1 Cobra in firepower, performance and range. It would have the manoeuvrability for terrain following nap-of-the-earth (NoE) flying. To this end, the US Army issued a Request For Proposals (RFP) for an Advanced Attack Helicopter (AAH) on 15 November 1972. As a sign of the importance of this project, in September 1973 the Army designated their five most important projects, the "Big Five" with AAH included.

Proposals were submitted by five manufacturers: Bell, Boeing Vertol (teamed with Grumman), Hughes, Lockheed, and Sikorsky. In July 1973, the U.S. Department of Defence selected finalists Bell and Hughes Aircraft's Toolco Aircraft Division (later Hughes Helicopters). This began the phase 1 of the competition. Each company built prototype helicopters and went through a flight test program. Hughes' Model 77/YAH-64A prototype first flew on 30 September 1975, while Bell's Model 409/YAH-63A prototype first flew on 1 October. After evaluating test results, the Army selected Hughes' YAH-64A over Bell's YAH-63A in 1976. Reasons for selecting the YAH-64A included its more damage tolerant four-blade main rotor and the instability of the YAH-63's tricycle landing gear arrangement.

A Hughes YAH-64A prototype The AH-64A then entered phase 2 of the AAH program. This called for building three pre-production AH-64s, and upgrading the two YAH-64A flight prototypes and the ground test unit up to the same standard. Weapons and sensor systems were integrated and tested during this time, including the new Hellfire missile.

 

Technical Specifications

 

Powerplant:

2 General Electric T700-GE-701 and later upgraded to T700-GE-701C (1990–present) & T700-GE-701D (AH-64D block III)

 

Dimensions:

Length: 58.17 ft (17.73 m) (with both rotors turning) Rotor diameter: 48 ft 0 in (14.63 m) Height: 12.7 ft (3.87 m) Disc area: 1,809.5 ft² (168.11 m²)Fuselage length: 49 ft 5 in (15.06 m) Rotor systems: 4 blade main rotor, 4 blade tail rotor in non-orthogonal alignment

 

Weights:

Empty weight: 11,387 lb (5,165 kg) Loaded weight: 17,650 lb (8,000 kg) Max takeoff weight: 23,000 lb (10,433 kg)

 

Performance:

Maximum speed: 158 knots (182 mph, 293 km/h) Service ceiling: 21,000 ft (6,400 m) minimum loaded

 

Armament:

Guns: 1× 30 × 113 mm (1.18 × 4.45 in) M230 Chain Gun with 1,200 rounds Hardpoints: Four pylon stations on the stub wings. Longbows also have a station on each wingtip for an AIM-92 ATAS twin missile pack. Rockets: Hydra 70 air-to-ground rockets Missiles: Typically AGM-114 Hellfire variants, however, AIM-9 Sidewinder, and AIM-92 Stinger may also be carried.


BOEING AH-64 APACHE LONGBOW GALLERY

Role: Stealth Heavy Attack Helicopter
Builder:
Boeing
Variants: AH-64A, AH-64B, AH-64C, AH-64D
Operators: British Army, United States Army, Egyptian Air Force, Greek Army, Israeli Air Force, Japan Ground Self Defence Force, Kuwait Air Force, Republic of China Air Force, Royal Saudi Air Force, Republic of Singapore Air Force, United Arab  Emirates Air Force