Attack helicopter AH-64 Apache is one of the most advanced helicopters ever made and only for one purpose – to find and destroy enemy forces. He is one of the fastest and deadliest helicopters in the world, tank killer. Is strong enough to survive attacks from the earth, he can perform a quick lightning strike, can get out of any situation, and with all of the above he can be stealthy with a small radar reflection.
The Apache originally started as the Model 77 developed by Hughes Helicopters for the United States Army’s Advanced Attack Helicopter program to replace the AH-1 Cobra. The prototype YAH-64 was first flown on 30 September 1975. The U.S. Army selected the YAH-64 over the Bell YAH-63 in 1976 and later approved full production in 1982. After purchasing Hughes Helicopters in 1984, McDonnell Douglas continued AH-64 production and development. The helicopter was introduced to U.S. Army service in April 1986. The first production AH-64D Apache Longbow, an upgraded Apache variant, was delivered to the Army in March 1997. Production has been continued by Boeing Defense, Space & Security; over 2,000 AH-64s have been produced to date.
The U.S. Army is the primary operator of the AH-64; it has also become the primary attack helicopter of multiple nations, including Greece, Japan, Israel, the Netherlands, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates; as well as being produced under license in the United Kingdom as the AgustaWestland Apache. American AH-64s have served in conflicts in Panama, the Persian Gulf, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Israel used the Apache in its military conflicts in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip; British and Dutch Apaches have seen deployments in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Specifications and equipment
The Boeing AH-64 Apache is an American four-blade, twin-turboshaft attack helicopter with a tailwheel-type landing gear arrangement and a tandem cockpit for a two-man crew. It features a nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems. It is armed with a 30 mm (1.18 in) M230 chain gun carried between the main landing gear, under the aircraft’s forward fuselage. It has four hardpoints mounted on stub-wing pylons, typically carrying a mixture of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70 rocket pods. The AH-64 has a lot of systems redundancy to improve combat survivability.
Armaments and configurations
The AH-64 is adaptable to numerous different roles within its context as Close Combat Attack (CCA). In addition to the 30 mm M230E1 Chain Gun, the Apache carries a range of external stores and weapons on its stub-wing pylons, typically a mixture of AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missiles, and Hydra 70 general-purpose unguided 70 mm (2.756 in) rockets. One 18-aircraft Apache battalion equipped with Hellfire missiles is capable of destroying 288 tanks. Since 2005, the Hellfire missile is sometimes outfitted with a thermobaric warhead; designated AGM-114N, it is intended for use against ground forces and urban warfare operations. The use of thermobaric “enhanced blast” weapons, such as the AGM-114N, has been a point of controversy. In October 2015, the U.S. Army ordered its first batch of Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) guided 70 mm rockets for the Apache.
Starting in the 1980s, the Stinger and AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and the AGM-122 Sidearm anti-radiation missile were evaluated for use upon the AH-64. The Stinger was initially selected; the U.S. Army was also considering the Starstreak air-to-air missile. External fuel tanks can also be carried on the stub wings to increase range and mission time. The stub-wing pylons have mounting points for maintenance access; these mountings can be used to secure externally personnel for emergency transportation. Stinger missiles are often used on non-U.S. Apaches, as foreign forces do not have as many air superiority aircraft to control the skies. The AH-64E initially lacked the ability to use the Stinger to make room for self-defense equipment, but the capability was re-added following a South Korean demand.
The AH-64E Apache has the ability to control unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), used by the U.S. Army to perform aerial scouting missions previously performed by the OH-58 Kiowa. Apaches can request to take control of an RQ-7 Shadow or MQ-1C Grey Eagle from ground control stations to safely scout via datalink communications. There are four levels of UAV interoperability (LOI): LOI 1 indirectly receives payload data; LOI 2 receives payload data through direct communication; LOI 3 deploys the UAV’s armaments, and LOI 4 takes over flight control. UAVs can search for enemies and, if equipped with a laser designator, target them for the Apache or other friendly aircraft.
Boeing has suggested that the AH-64 could be fitted with a directed energy weapon. The company has developed a small laser weapon, initially designed to engage small UAVs, that uses a high-resolution telescope to direct a 2-10 kW beam with the diameter of a penny out to a range of 5.4 nmi (10.0 km; 6.2 mi). On the Apache, the laser could be used to destroy enemy communications or radio equipment.
On 14 July 2016 it was reported that the AH-64 had successfully completed testing of the MBDA Brimstone anti-armor missile.
The AH-64A is the original production attack helicopter. The crew sits in tandem in an armored compartment. It is powered by two GE T700 turboshaft engines. The A-model was equipped with the −701 engine version until 1990 when the engines were switched to the more powerful −701C version.
U.S. Army AH-64As are being converted to AH-64Ds. The service’s last AH-64A was taken out of service in July 2012 before conversion at Boeing’s facility in Mesa, Arizona. On 25 September 2012, Boeing received a $136.8M contract to remanufacture the last 16 AH-64As into the AH-64D Block II version and this was forecast to be completed by December 2013.
In 1991, after Operation Desert Storm, the AH-64B was a proposed upgrade to 254 AH-64As. The upgrade would have included new rotor blades, a Global Positioning System (GPS), improved navigation systems and new radios. Congress approved $82M to begin the Apache B upgrade. The B program was canceled in 1992. The radio, navigation, and GPS modifications were later installed on most A-model Apaches through other upgrades.
Additional funding from Congress in late 1991 resulted in a program to upgrade AH-64As to an AH-64B+ version. More funding changed the plan to upgrade to AH-64C. The C upgrade would include all changes to be included in the Longbow except for mast-mounted radar and newer −700C engine versions. However, the C designation was dropped after 1993. With AH-64As receiving the newer engine from 1990, the only difference between the C model and the radar-equipped D model was the radar, which could be moved from one aircraft to another; thus the decision was made to simply designate both versions “AH-64D”.
The AH-64D Apache Longbow is equipped with a glass cockpit and advanced sensors, the most noticeable of which is the AN/APG-78 Longbow millimeter-wave fire-control radar (FCR) target acquisition system and the Radar Frequency Interferometer (RFI), housed in a dome located above the main rotor. The radome’s raised position enables target detection while the helicopter is behind obstacles (e.g. terrain, trees or buildings). The AN/APG-78 is capable of simultaneously tracking up to 128 targets and engaging up to 16 at once, an attack can be initiated within 30 seconds. A radio modem integrated with the sensor suite allows data to be shared with ground units and other Apaches; allowing them to fire on targets detected by a single helicopter.
The AH-64D Apache Longbow is equipped with a glass cockpit and advanced sensors, the most noticeable of which is the AN/APG-78 Longbow millimeter-wave fire control radar (FCR) target acquisition system and the Radar Frequency Interferometer (RFI), housed in a dome located above the main rotor. The radome’s raised position enables target detection while the helicopter is behind obstacles (e.g. terrain, trees or buildings). The AN/APG-78 is capable of simultaneously tracking up to 128 targets and engaging up to 16 at once, an attack can be initiated within 30 seconds. A radio modem integrated with the sensor suite allows data to be shared with ground units and other Apaches; allowing them to fire on targets detected by a single helicopter.
The aircraft is powered by a pair of uprated T700-GE-701C engines. The forward fuselage was expanded to accommodate new systems to improve survivability, navigation, and ‘tactical internet’ communications capabilities. In February 2003, the first Block II Apache was delivered to the U.S. Army, featuring digital communications upgrades. The Japanese Apache AH-64DJP variant is based on the AH-64D; it can be equipped with the AIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missiles for self-defense.
Formerly known as AH-64D Block III, in 2012, it was redesignated as AH-64E Guardian to represent its increased capabilities. The AH-64E features improved digital connectivity, the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System, more powerful T700-GE-701D engines with upgraded face gear transmission to accommodate more power, the capability to control unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs), full IFR capability, and improved landing gear.
New composite rotor blades, which successfully completed testing in 2004, increase cruise speed, climb rate, and payload capacity. Deliveries began in November 2011. Full-rate production was approved on 24 October 2012, with 634 AH-64Ds to be upgraded to AH-64E standard and production of 56 new-build AH-64Es to start in 2019/20. Changes in production lots 4 through 6 shall include a cognitive decision aiding system and new self-diagnostic abilities. The updated Longbow radar has an oversea capacity, potentially enabling naval strikes; an AESA radar is under consideration. The E model is to be fit for maritime operations. The Army has expressed a desire to add extended-range fuel tanks to the AH-64E to further increase range and endurance. AH-64Es are to have the L-3 Communications MUM-TX datalink installed in place of two previous counterparts, communicating on C, D, L, and Ku frequency bands to transmit and receive data and video with all Army UAVs. Lots 5 and 6 will be equipped with Link 16 data-links.
In 2014, Boeing conceptualized an Apache upgrade prior to the introduction of the U.S. Army’s anticipated attack version of the Future Vertical Lift aircraft, forecast to replace the Apache by 2040. The conceptual AH-64F would have greater speed via a new 3,000 hp turboshaft engine from the improved turbine engine program, retractable landing gear, stub wings to offload lift from the main rotor during the cruise, and a tail rotor that can articulate 90 degrees to provide forward thrust. In October 2016, the Army revealed they would not pursue another Apache upgrade to focus on funding the FVL; the Army will continue buying the Apache through the 2020s until Boeing’s production line ends in 2026, then FVL is slated to come online in 2030.
During the 1980s naval versions of the AH-64A for the United States Marine Corps and Navy were examined. Multiple concepts were studied with altered landing gear arrangements, improved avionics, and weapons. The USMC was very interested and conducted a two-week evaluation of the Apache in September 1981, including shipboard operation tests.
Funding for a naval version was not provided; the Marine Corps continued to use the AH-1. The Canadian Forces Maritime Command also examined a naval Apache. In 2004, British Army AgustaWestland Apaches were deployed upon the Royal Navy’s HMS Ocean, a Landing Platform Helicopter, for suitability testing; there was U.S. interest in the trials.
During the 2011 military intervention in Libya, the British Army extensively used Apaches from HMS Ocean. In 2013, U.S. 36th Combat Aviation Brigade AH-64Ds were tested on a variety of U.S. Navy ships.
Several models have been derived from both AH-64A and AH-64D for export. The British-built AgustaWestland Apache (assembled from kits purchased from Boeing) is based on the AH-64D Block I with several different systems, including more powerful engines, folding rotor blades, and other modifications for operation from Royal Navy vessels.
While a major change in design or role will cause the type designator suffix to change, for example from AH-64D to AH-64E, the helicopters are also subject to block modification. Block modification is the combining of equipment changes into blocks of modification work orders, the modifications in the block (sometimes called a block package) are all done to the helicopter at the same time.
Kamov Ka-52 Alligator
The new state-of-art Russian combat helicopter designed as Kamov Ka-52 Alligator is a next-generation reconnaissance and combat helicopter. It is designed to destroy tanks, armored and non-armored ground targets, and enemy troops and helicopters both on the front line and in tactical reserves.
The helicopter can operate around the clock and in all weathers. The Ka-52 Alligator can provide target acquisition and designation for helicopter teams and ground troop command and control centers. It can also provide fire support for troop landings, fly routine patrols and escort military convoys.
History and development
In the early 1980s, while comparative tests of the V-80 (Ka-50 prototype) and the Mi-28 were being conducted, the Kamov design team came up with a proposal to develop a dedicated combat helicopter to conduct battlefield reconnaissance, provide target designation, support and co-ordinate group attack helicopter operations. However, the economic hardships that hit the nation in the late 1980s hampered this new development program.
This prompted Kamov’s Designer General to choose a modified version of Ka-50 on which to install the reconnaissance and target designation system. The modified “Black Shark” required a second crew member to operate the optronics/radar reconnaissance suite. Kamov decided to use side-by-side seating arrangement, due to the verified improvements in co-operation between the crew members. This twin-seat version was designated Ka-52.
Manufacturing of the first Ka-52 airframe began in mid-1996. Series production was started in autumn 2008. The 696th Instructor and Research Helicopter Regiment, based at Torzhok Air Base, is operating eight helicopters, in varying degrees of capability and/or modification, for research and development. In December 2010, four new, series-production Kamov Ka-52s were delivered to the Air Base of the 344th Centre for Combat Training and Aircrew Conversion.
Design and armament
The combat helicopter Kamov Ka-52 Alligator is fitted with signature control devices as well as electronic and active counter-measures. It meets the latest Russian and international standards for the technical operation of military combat helicopters.
The helicopter has a two-seat cockpit and can be flown by either pilot. Its advanced flight capabilities – achieved in part thanks to its coaxial rotors – make the helicopter highly maneuverable in limited space and thus able to adopt an advantageous attack position.
The Kamov Ka-52 Alligator’s two VK-2500 turboshaft engines allow the helicopter to operate at altitudes above 5,000m. It has a static ceiling of 4,000 m, and is able to take off and land in hot climates and in high mountainous terrain. The Alligator can also operate in cold climates and icy conditions.
It is also is equipped with the latest avionics suite and powerful offensive weapons that can be configured for a wide range of combat missions. The Kamov Ka-52 Alligator offers a high degree of protection to its crew, advanced automated systems for ease of piloting, and is easy to service and maintain on the ground.
Up to 4,000m
2 x VK-2500 or VK-2500P
2 x 2,400hp
Maximum acceleration at sea level
Vertical acceleration at sea level
Practical range (internal fuel tanks)
|The Ka-52 Alligator is equipped with 30mm caliber 2A42-1 aircraft gun, and can also carry a Strelets missile system, launch systems for guided missiles such as Ataka and Vikhr-1, as well as a launch system for S-8 unguided missiles.|
|K-37-800M shock-absorbing ejector seats|
Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion
The Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion was introduced in 1981 seven years after its initial flight on March 1, 1974. Modeled after the CH-53 Sea Stallion, the Super Stallion was designed with a third engine and seven main rotor blades and some changes in the tail rotor. Built mainly for the US Marine Corps, the MH-53E Sea Dragon variant is used by the US Navy for mine sweeping and to perform heavy lifting.
Design and Development
In 1962, the US marines opened a competition in search of an experimental heavy helicopter. Sikorsky’s S-65 was chosen and designated the CH-53A Sea Stallion. Delivery began in 1966. Several variants followed including the well-known “Super Jolly Green Giant” (HH-53B/C) used by the US Air Force for their Special Operations and combat rescue and first dispatched during theVietnam War.
By October of 1967, the U.S. Marine Corps required a heavy lift helicopter whose capacity could almost double that of the CH-53D, yet still able to fit on amphibious vehicles for transport. The Army and Navy were looking into a similar type aircraft.
Sikorsky had already begun upgrades on the CH-53D with adding a third turboshaft engine and upgrading the power of the rotor system. Once presented to the US Marine Corps, they provided the necessary funds to produce a test helicopter they could use for evaluation. In addition to the third engine and rotor system power, the new variant (YCH-53E) included a number of updates including the following:
- Stronger transmission
- Seventh rotor blade
- Titanium-fiberglass composite rotor blades
- Longer fuselage
- Change in the tail mount
- Automatic Flight Control System
After extensive testing, the prototype proved its strength capacity with a 17.8-ton lift. Production began and by December of 1980, the first CH-53E took flight.
Operational History of the CH-53E Super Stallion
In the 1980s, the US Marine Corps used this aircraft to assist with medical transport in Beirut after a truck bomb killed over 200 militants and critically injured several others. The CH-53E was one of the helicopters sent into Somalia in 1991 to assist evacuating the US and foreign nationals from the US embassy (Somalian Civil War). They were also operated during Desert Storm to sweep for mines in the Persian Gulf and in 1995 to rescue a downed F-16 Fighter pilot.
Beginning in 2001, the CH-53E was sent into Afghanistan to secure the very first land base (Camp Rhino). In 2003, they participated in the invasion of Iraq. Their participation was crucial in delivering supplies and ammunition to front-line Marine units and transporting the critically injured.
Specifications of the CH-53E Super Stallion
- Crew: 5
- Capacity: 37 troops
- Maximum Take-Off Weight: 73,500 lbs.
- Maximum Speed: 196 miles per hour
- Cruising Speed: 173 miles per hour
- Range: 621 miles
- Climbing Rate: 2,500 feet per minute
- 2 x .50 BMG GAU-15/A machine guns (mounted on the windows)
- 1 x .50 BMG – weapons system (mounted on the ramp)
- GAU-21 M3M mounted machine gun
The Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion remains the largest and heaviest helicopter in US service history and is still being used today by the US Marine Corps and the US Navy.
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