AH-64E Apache Block III: Evolving Battlefield Roles
March 18/15: Dutch shove Apache peg into ISTAR hole.
The Netherlands has been experimenting. The Royal Netherland Air Forces has been using “modifications and operational techniques” to convert their fleet of AH-64 Apache helicopters from their traditional ground-attack and CAS roles to a more ISTAR-oriented platform. Details of exactly what these special changes are remain to be seen.
Feb 23/15: Governors gripe about plan to take Apaches from Reserve units. As was predicted, the governors, through their collective lobby group, are
complaining about the Army plan to move National Guard Apaches over to active service Army units. The argument focuses on the fact that Apaches have been used for domestic emergency management (lightly). Governors’ influence on congressional delegations should not be underestimated.
The AH-64 Apache will remain the US Army’s primary armed helicopter for several more decades, thanks to the collapse of the RAH-66 Comanche program, and the retirement sans replacement of the US Army’s Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH). Apaches also serve with a number of American allies, some of whom have already expressed interest in upgrading or expanding their fleets.
The AH-64E Guardian Block III (AB3) is the helicopter’s next big step forward. It incorporates 26 key new-technology insertions that cover flight performance, maintenance costs, sensors & electronics, and even the ability to control UAVs as part of manned-unmanned teaming (MUT). In July 2006, Boeing and U.S. Army officials signed the initial development contract for Block III upgrades to the current and future Apache fleet, via a virtual signing ceremony. By November 2011, the 1st production helicopter had been delivered. So… how many helicopters will be modified under the AH-64 Block III program, what do these modifications include, how is the program structured, and what has been happening since that 2006 award? The short answer is: a lot, including export interest and sales.
The AH-64 Apache Program: Sunset, Sunrise
The AH-64E Apache Guardian
Contracts and Key Events
FY 2008 – 2010
FY 2007 and Earlier
Appendix A: Apache’s (Re) Production History
Background: AH-64 Apache
Background: Ancillary Equipment
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