The first two of fifty new Apache AH-64E attack helicopters have been delivered to the British Army.
The British Army expects to operate 50 AH-64E aircraft.
Approval for the upgrade of fifty of the UK’s WAH-64 fleet to AH-64E Apache Guardian standard was given by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency in August 2015 however in July 2016, the UK placed an order for 50 AH-64Es through the US Foreign Military Sales programme instead of upgrading their Westland-built WAH-64s.
To date, more than 500 AH-64E model Apaches have been delivered worldwide. According to Boeing, the AH-64E features:
Advanced digital connectivity
Joint Tactical Information Distribution System
More powerful T700-GE-701D engines with upgraded face gear transmission to accommodate more power
Capability to control unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)
New composite main rotor blade
According to the British Army, the new aircraft arrived at Wattisham Flying Station on the 26th of November.
“These Boeing built new aircraft will enable the UK to maintain its battle-winning Attack Helicopter capability for decades to come thanks to its improved digital capability. The new aircraft is already in service with the US Army and other defence forces and has been designed and equipped to offer common configuration. First UK flying is anticipated to commence in July 2021.
Initially, this will be focussed on trials activity and then on developing instructional techniques to safely manage aircrew transition from Mark 1 to E-model. The focus will then change to the full rate conversion training of 3 Regiment Army Air Corps (3AAC). Prior to commencement of flying, the full Air System Safety Case will be rigorously tested to ensure it can support safe flying. This will include Quality Assurance and airworthiness tasks by 7 Bn, plus certification by the UK Military Aviation Authority, assurance of aircraft documentation, simulators, training and instructors.”
Image shows the first two new British Army Apache AH-64E Version 6 Helicopters being off-loaded from a 99 Sqn Boeing C17 Globemaster III at RAF Brize Norton after flying in from Kansas City.
According to a British Army news release:
“New engines, drivetrain, main rotor blades and avionics will deliver a significant boost in aircraft performance. Embedded system-level diagnostics will increase aircraft availability. Extended range Fire Control Radar with maritime mode will ensure the aircraft can operate in the maritime environment. Link 16, Mode 5 Identification Friend or Foe and, in time, Manned-Unmanned Teaming bring theatre entry-standard equipment fits and vastly increase crew battle-space awareness.”
Maj Gen Jez Bennett, Director Capability, said:
“The arrival of the first Apache E Model Attack Helicopter to be delivered to the British Army over the next two years marks the beginning of a significant uplift in capability to enhance the Army’s contribution across the spectrum of military operations. From supporting hostage rescue missions, to countering an adversaries’ anti-access, area denial platforms, the Apache E outstrips the outgoing Mark 1 aircraft by increased platform digitalisation, improved weapons and avionics, and the ability to use the latest and future technology to enable teaming with semi-autonomous systems such as UASs.”
Air Commodore Owen Barnes, DE&S Boeing helicopters portfolio manager, said:
“DE&S is delighted to have brought the Apache Capability Sustainment Programme to this significant milestone. It represents the continued dedication and hard work of the team, in close collaboration with our Army customer, to deliver the best capability to our armed forces.”