AH-64E Apache Block III: Evolving Battlefield Roles
November 15/17: Testing AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters from South Korea participated in their first live-firing of AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles during exercises on Monday. Located at a range off the western coastal city of Gunsan, all helicopters completed a 60Km flight before launching their munitions from different distances and in different manners so that pilots can better familiarize themselves with the missile, and all Hellfires made their target. Four additional Apaches also joined the exercise as command and back-up planes. Seoul has been operating 36 E-model Apaches since January of this year, with US Force Korea also operating 48 Apaches on the peninsula.
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 2016 – 2017
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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