The AH-64 Apache is a four-blade, twin-engine attack helicopter with tail wheel-type landing gear arrangement and tandem cockpit for a crew of two. The Apache was developed as Model 77 by Hughes Helicopters for the U.S. Army’s Advanced Attack Helicopter program to replace the AH-1 Cobra. First flown on 30 September 1975, the AH-64 features a nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems. The Apache is armed with a 30-millimeter (1.2 in) M230 Chain Gun carried between the main landing gear, under the aircraft’s forward fuselage. It has four hard points mounted on stub-wing pylons, typically carrying a mixture of AGM-114 Hellfire and Hydra 70 rocket pods. The AH-64 also features double- and triple-redundant aircraft systems to improve survivability for the aircraft and crew in combat, as well as improved crash survivability for the pilots.
The U.S. Army selected the AH-64 over the Bell YAH-03 in 1976, awarding Hughes Helicopters a preproduction contract for two more aircraft. In 1982, the Army approved full production. McDonnell Douglas continued production and development after purchasing Hughes Helicopters from Summa Corporation in 1984. The first production AH-64D Apache Longbow, a greatly upgraded version of the original Apache, was delivered to the Army in March 1997. AH-64 production is continued by the Boeing Defense, Space & Security division; over 1,000 AH-64s have been produced to date.
The U.S. Army is the primary operator of the AH-64; however, it has also become the primary attack helicopter of several nations it has been exported to, including the United Kingdom, Israel, Japan, Greece and the Netherlands. U.S. AH-64s have served in conflicts in Panama, the Persian Gulf War, the Kosovo War, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Israel has made active use of the Apache in its military conflicts in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, while two coalition allies have deployed their AH-64s in Afghanistan and Iraq.
General Characteristics of the AH-4A Apache
- Crew: 2 (pilot, and co-pilot/gunner)
- Length: 58.17 ft (17.73 m) (with both rotors turning)
- Rotor diameter: 48 ft 0 in (14.63 m)
- Height: 12.7 ft (3.87 m)
- Disc area: 1,809.5 ft² (168.11 m²)
- Empty weight: 11,387 lb (5,165 kg)
- Loaded weight: 17,650 lb (8,000 kg)
- Max takeoff weight: 23,000 lb (10,433 kg)
- Power plant: 2× General Electric T700-GE-701 and later upgraded to T700-GE-701C (1990-present) & T700-GE-701D (AH-64D block III) turbo shafts, -701: 1,690 shp, -701C: 1,890 shp, -701D: 2,000 shp (-701: 1,260 kW, -701C: 1,490 kW, -701D: 1,490 kW) each
- Fuselage length: 49 ft 5 in (15.06 m)
- Rotor systems: 4-blade main rotor, 4-blade tail rotor in nonorthogonal alignment
AH-64A Apache Performance
- Never exceed speed: 197 knots (227 mph, 365 km/h)
- Maximum speed: 158 knots (182 mph, 293 km/h)
- Cruise speed: 143 knots (165 mph, 265 km/h)
- Range: 257 nmi (295 mi, 476 km) with Longbow radar mast
- Combat radius: 260 nmi (300 mi, 480 km)
- Ferry range: 1,024 nmi (1,180 mi, 1,900 km)
- Service ceiling: 21,000 ft (6,400 m) minimum loaded
- Rate of climb: 2,500 ft/min (12.7 m/s)
- Disc loading: 9.80 lb/ft² (47.9 kg/m²)
- Power/mass: 0.18 hp/lb (0.31 KW/kg)
- Lockheed Martin/Northrop Grumman AN/APG-78 Longbow fire-control radar (Note: can only be mounted on the AH-64D.)
- Guns: 1× 30 x 113 mm (1.18 × 4.45 in) M230 Chain Gun with 1,200 rounds
- Hard points: Four pylon stations on the stub wings. Longbows also have a station on each wingtip for an AIM-92 ATAS twin missile pack.
- Rockets: Hydra 70 air-to-ground rockets
- Missiles: Typically AGM-114 Hellfire variants,; however, AIM-92 Stinger may also be carried.