Billions Worth of New Apache Attack Helicopters to Enter U.S. Army Ranks

AH-64E Apache 9 photos
Photo: Boeing
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Like most other military hardware now flying in the skies of our world, the most recognizable attack helicopter we know of, the AH-64 Apache, is a very old beast. Fielded primarily not by the U.S. Air Force (USAF), but by the U.S. Army, the flying beast has been at it since all the way back in 1975 (as a Hughes Helicopters product), and it will continue to do so for many more years to come.
Since its introduction almost half a century ago, the Apache turned into one of the most important aerial assets of the U.S. Army, but also of its allies. The fleet of some 1,200 such machines deployed globally celebrated earlier this month going over the five million flight hours milestone - and that’s no small feat no matter the machine we’re talking about, military or otherwise.

Described by its current maker, Boeing, as “the most advanced multirole combat helicopter in the world,“ it is scheduled to be around for a lot longer still. The most recent variant of the machine, the sixth already, is called AH-64E, and this one will keep rolling off the assembly lines at least until 2028. That means these weapons platforms will stay in service until the 2060s, and that’s just a few years short of the family turning 100!

The AH-64E configuration of the aircraft can seat a crew of two people, sending them into combat at speeds of 173 mph (280 kph). Most importantly, the crew doesn’t go into to fight empty-handed, but armed with an impressive arsenal of weapons: 16 Hellfire missiles, 76 2.75-inch rockets, and 1,200 30 mm chain gun rounds that exit the helicopter’s barrels at a rate of 650 per minute.

AH\-64 Apache
Photo: Boeing
And that’s just the standard equipment. Earlier in February, the helicopter flew and fired a the Spike non-line-of-sight self-guided missile, which it will start using on a regular basis for warfighting sometime in late 2024.

Some AH-64E Apaches are made new from scratch, and these mostly go to allied nations, while others are remanufactured versions, mostly for use by the helicopter’s largest operator, the American military.

At the end of last week Boing announced no less than 115 AH-64Es have been ordered by the Army, with the option of 15 more to join the fleet. Boeing will soon start rolling these fighting machines off assembly lines in Mesa, Arizona, but it will also make 54 of them for foreign nations, including for a country that’s never had them before: Australia. The southern hemisphere continent thus becomes the 18th nation to opt for this attack helicopter.

As per Boeing, the contract announced on Friday is worth $1.9 billion, but has “the potential to increase to more than $3.8 billion with future obligations.”
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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