Upgraded Apache Attack Helicopter Flies for the First Time

AH-64E Apache 9 photos
Photo: Boeing
AH-64 ApacheAH-64 ApacheAH-64 ApacheAH-64 ApacheAH-64 ApacheAH-64 ApacheAH-64 ApacheAH-64 Apache
The AH-64 Apache is considered by many the world's most potent attack helicopter. That's not a hard title to hold on to, given how there aren't all that many of them around, but still remains a title the aircraft can be proud of.
The platform was born back in 1975 as a product of a company called Hughes Helicopters. Around 2,400 of them have been built since, reaching a combined flight time of five million hours earlier this year.

The Apache was deployed in most of America's modern wars, including in Afghanistan and Iraq, and despite its age there are currently no plans to replace it in the U.S. Army arsenal.

In fact, the military branch seems to be betting on the platform for a lot more years to come, and it awarded the helicopter's current maker, Boeing, a $1.9 billion contract to keep it flying.

The contract was announced in March 2023, based on requirements laid out back in 2021, and this week, just a few short months after that, the aerospace giant announced the completion of the improved variant's first test flight.

The upgraded Apache is called AH-64E (aka Version 6.5, or V6.5), and comes with several important differences compared to previous capabilities.

The upgrades are both software- and hardware-related and target improvements to pilot interface, and route and attack planning. Work was also conducted by Boeing to make the helicopter suitable for modular integration of future systems.

Most importantly, the helicopter will get an engine upgrade, in the form of the so-called Improved Turbine Engine (ITE). We're talking about a General Electric T901 powerplant whose exact capabilities in this application were not detailed.

In its standard configuration, the unit (which will also be used on the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft) develops up to 3,000 shaft horsepower and should allow significant improvements in terms of power (more by 50 percent) and fuel consumption (less by 25 percent) compared to the T700 previously used on the aircraft.

We are not told where or when the first test flight took place, or what the requirements were, but Boeing says the procedure was a success. More such tests will most likely follow before this newest variant is declared fit for duty.

Being committed to making no less than 115 AH-64E versions of the Apache for the immediate Army needs, with the option for the fleet to grow by an additional 15. Not only the American forces will get the variant, but also foreign nations (including, for the first time ever, Australia), for which a fleet of 54 helicopters is being planned.

Boeing does not say when the first production units will be ready, but it did say the upgrades will be performed at its facility in Mesa, Arizona.
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram
Press Release
About the author: Daniel Patrascu
Daniel Patrascu profile photo

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.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories