Boeing AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter
The Boeing AH-64 Apache is a four-blade, twin-engine attack helicopter with a tailwheel-type landing gear arrangement, and a tandem cockpit for a two-man crew. The Apache was developed as Model 77 by Hughes Helicopters for the United States Army's Advanced Attack Helicopter program to replace the AH-1 Cobra, and was first flown on 30 September 1975. The AH-64 was introduced to US Army service in April 1986.
The AH-64 Apache features a nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems. It 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 hardpoints mounted on stub-wing pylons, typically carrying a mixture of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70 rocket pods. The AH-64 has a large amount of systems redundancy to improve combat survivability.
The AH-64 Apache has a four-blade main rotor and a four-blade tail rotor. The crew sits in tandem, with the pilot sitting behind and above the copilot/gunner. The crew compartment has shielding between the cockpits, such that one crew member can survive hits. The compartment and the rotor blades are designed to sustain a hit from 23-millimeter (0.91 in) rounds. The airframe includes some 2,500 pounds (1,100 kg) of protection against ballistic strikes. The Apache also utilizes a self-sealing fuel system to protect against the loss of fuel caused by ballistic projectiles.
The AH-64 is designed to endure front-line environments and to operate during the day or night and in adverse weather using avionics, such as the Target Acquisition and Designation System, Pilot Night Vision System (TADS/PNVS), passive infrared countermeasures, GPS, and the IHADSS. A newer system that is replacing TADS/PNVS is Arrowhead (MTADS); it is manufactured by Lockheed Martin, a contract was made on 17 February 2005 to begin equipping all models of American Apaches.
The AH-64 is adaptable to numerous different roles within its context as Close Combat Attack (CCA), and has a customizable weapons loadout for the role desired. In addition to the 30-mm M230E1 Chain Gun, the Apache carries a range of external stores on its stub-wing pylons, typically a mixture of AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missiles, and Hydra 70 general-purpose unguided 70 mm (2.76 in) rockets. The Stinger and AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and the AGM-122 Sidearm anti-radiation missile were evaluated beginning in the late 1980s. The Stinger was initially selected over the AIM-9, but the US Army is considering the Starstreak air-to-air missile instead. The stub-wing pylons also have mounting points for use during ground helicopter maintenance; though in case of emergency the mount points can be used for harnessing personnel to the wings during transport. External fuel tanks can also be carried by the pylons to increase range and mission time.