In 1976, the United States Army approved Hughes Aircraft’s bid to produce the Model 77/YAH-64 advanced attack helicopter. The first model wasn’t ready to fly until 1983 and by then the manufacturer had changed its name to Hughes Helicopter. In 1981, the helicopter became the Apache. A few years later, in 1984, McDonnell Douglas purchased Hughes Helicopters. In August of 1997, McDonnell Douglas merged with Boeing. Despite the ownership changes, behind the scenes manufacture of the Apache continued.
In 1989, during the U.S. invasion of Panama, the Apache was inaugurated into combat. Since then, the helicopter has taken part in numerous conflicts, including the Gulf and Iraq Wars. The AH-64 helicopters are especially valuable for taking out tanks and other heavily fortified targets. Its main drawbacks are a vulnerability to ground fire from enemy units and its inability to fire at more than one target simultaneously. Numerous AH-64 aircraft have been lost during combat in the Iraq War.
The AH-64 helicopter is capable of carrying a combination of anti-tank missiles and FFAR rockets. The Apache can also carry an auxiliary fuel tank for extended range missions. The latter proved invaluable during Desert Storm when AH-64 helicopters were used to destroy radar systems in advance of a bombing force. Because the AH-64 can operate in darkness or poor weather, it’s extremely versatile and can provide an added element of surprise.
The AH-64 Apache has played a role in the effectiveness of many armed forces around the world, including Israel, the Netherlands, Singapore, Kuwait, Turkey, South Korea, and Australia. It’s more than likely that additional countries will eventually integrate the AH-64 into their forces. Here are some details about the AH-64 Apache.
Main rotor diameter: 48 ft, 14.63 meters
Wingspan: 17 ft 2 in, 5.23 meters
Overall Height: 16 ft 3 in, 4.95 meters
Wheelbase: 10.59 meters (34 ft 9 in)
Empty weight: 11,387 lb, 5,165 kg
Maximum take-off weight: 9525 kg
Maximum cruising speed: 293 km/h, 182 mph, 158 kt
Maximum rate of climb: 736 meters per minute
Service ceiling: 21,000 ft, 6,400 meters
Maximum range: 260 nm, 482 km, 300 mi
Armament: one 30mm automatic cannon, and up to 76 FFAR rockets, or up to 16 Hellfire anti-tank missiles, or a combination of Hellfire missiles and FFAR rockets.
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