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Author Topic: Apache enters new era  (Read 6793 times)

Offline tigershark

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Apache enters new era
« on: July 23, 2008, 05:05:09 PM »
Apache enters new era
By Max Jarman - The Arizona Republic
Posted : Wednesday Jul 23, 2008 8:39:41 EDT

An unmanned aircraft sails through the night sky, watching enemy soldiers plant roadside bombs ahead of an approaching convoy of American troops.

The craft fires a missile at insurgents, sparing what would have been certain U.S. casualties. The pilot in control of the craft is safely 50 miles away, aboard an Apache helicopter.

By 2011, crews will be able to do just that from the next generation of the aircraft. Remote-control piloting is one of the features of the new Apache, which was unveiled this month in Mesa, Ariz. Boeing Co.’s Mesa factory will begin making 634 of the ultra-high-tech aircraft in 2010.

The Army’s $19 billion order will mean greater protection for U.S. troops fighting in the Middle East, where the Apache has proven itself as a vital weapon. And it will open a new chapter in a storied piece of the U.S. military arsenal.

The Apache, first built to chase Soviet tanks out of Eastern Europe, has evolved into a fearsome military juggernaut credited with saving the lives of countless U.S. soldiers.

It was developed by Hughes Helicopter Co., which selected Mesa as the production site because the open terrain lent itself to test flights.

The first aircraft came off the assembly line in 1983 and saw combat in 1989 during the U.S. invasion of Panama. There, the helicopters outgrew their intended purpose as “tank killers” and proved to be invaluable support for ground troops.

The agile and lethal Apaches swoop in with firepower to support troops on the ground or to rescue soldiers in harm’s way.

The resourcefulness of the Apaches was further proved during Operation Desert Storm, where they were well suited to the rugged terrain and close-quarters combat. The same settings are the hallmarks of today’s wars in the region.

“In Afghanistan and Iraq, the Apache is one of the Army’s key weapons,” said Wayne Plucker, a defense industry analyst with market research firm Frost & Sullivan.

Gen. Richard Cody, a certified Apache pilot and the U.S. Army’s vice chief of staff, said he believes the next generation of Apaches will see plenty of action in the Middle East.

Even if the Army draws down the number of troops in the area, the Apaches will be “the last thing that comes off the battlefield,” Cody said. “It’s a premier fighter that our soldiers depend on.”

As good as the existing aircraft is, the new $30 million Apache, known as Block III, is substantially better. It has 25 major improvements.

The aircraft will contain some reused parts from existing Apaches to reduce costs but will have a new body, a more powerful engine and a redesigned transmission.

Composite rotor blades make it better able to maneuver in the thin air of high-altitude Afghanistan.

Better sensors and computers will allow pilots to view, at close range, terrain miles ahead and send streaming videos to other aircraft and command posts on the ground.

Sensors will monitor the health of the aircraft and alert the pilot when something needs attention.

The cockpit will have controls for an unmanned aerial vehicle that can fly ahead of the Apache, relaying back video of combat conditions 50 miles ahead. The UAV will carry missiles that can be fired by the Apache’s gunner.

The aircraft will link to the Army’s network, letting voice, data and video communications move freely among the Apache, ground forces, other aircraft and combat command centers. The software also can be constantly upgraded and modified as technology and conditions change.

“If we had Block III now in Iraq and Afghanistan, it wouldn’t be a fair fight,” Cody said.

The massive Apache contract was made possible by the Army’s cancellation in 2004 of the $14 billion Comanche reconnaissance/attack helicopter program in favor of upgrading its existing fleet.

Cody was instrumental in making the decision to scrap the Comanche after $6.9 billion was spent to develop it. He said the cost had gotten out of control and that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan created an immediate need to upgrade existing helicopters instead of waiting for a handful of new ones.

Most of the technological advances that were to have been on board the Comanche have been incorporated in the new Apache, Cody said.


Offline God Bless USA

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Re: Apache enters new era
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2008, 08:23:14 PM »
Great information in your post.  I've always wondered why the Marines use the Cobra instead of the Apache.

Offline tigershark

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Re: Apache enters new era
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2008, 09:29:01 PM »
Basically I think it's a money thing I may be wrong but the US Marines as a whole get so much less compared to the US Army in funding.  It's also a little different type of fighting and deployment as well and the US Army has so many more heavy units then the US Marines do. 


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