AH-64E Apache Block III: Evolving Battlefield Roles
February 21/20: British Army Apaches at Defender Europe 20 British Army Apache Attack helicopters, Wildcat reconnaissance helicopters and RAF Chinook transport helicopters, will be among more than 2,500 British troops taking part in Exercise Defender Europe 20, say the British Army. The pilots and ground crew of 3 Regt AAC’s 662 Squadron, based at Wattisham Flying Station in Suffolk, have been put through their paces this week ahead of the deployment, which will see them training in Germany and Poland in the spring. Defender Europe 20 is a US Army-led exercise involving 35,000 troops from 18 nations. It aims to demonstrate the ability to rapidly surge combat ready forces into and across Europe to support the NATO alliance.
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 – 2020
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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