Maintenance Overhangs and Flying Apaches
DID has talked about the coming “maintenance overhang” resulting from the high-tempo use of military vehicles et. al. in war. It’s something that takes its greatest toll on “high-demand, low density” assets like the E-8 JSTARS, but it also affects more numerous assets like the C-17 Globemaster III heavy transport, and even common assets like Hummers, armored vehicles like the M1 Abrams and M2/M3 Bradleys, and the AH-64 Apache helicopter. Still, nothing gives one a feel for the issue like numbers, and a recent Boeing news release was good enough to provide some.
The U.S. Army’s AH-64 Apache attack helicopter fleet has logged more than 2 million flight hours, according to recently released U.S. Army operational summary data (AH-64A over 1.6 million, AH-64D Longbow 400,000). “Nearly one-third of all flight hours have occurred in the past four years, including almost 700,000 hours since the war on terror began following the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.” AH-64A Apaches first entered service with the U.S. Army in 1984, and remain the primary troubleshooters and escorts for other helicopters in Afghanistan and Iraq.