Boeing AH-64E APACHE GUARDIAN gallery

The beginning of the AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopter can be found in July 2001, when Boeing presented an US Army AH-64D Apache Longbow equipped with different enhancements and a good number of system updates, including commercial off-the-shelf technologies to reduce costs and allow a longer operational life. In July 2005, the US Army commissioned Boeing to develop the “Block III enhancements for Apache Longbow” for an amount of $27.2 million with the intention that the first AH-64D Block III could begin production in 2010.
The new helicopter would receive numerous improvements, especially in the electronic equipment, with the intention of improving crew effectiveness. Up to 25 technological innovations would be included in the new package of improvements, such as a Modular Open System Architecture (MOSA) computing systems, a level IV unmanned aerial vehicle control system, a new on-board sensor imagery, new wideband network communications, an extended range sensor systems, an extended range fire control radar and extended range missiles. In 2013, the possibility of incorporating a new active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar was considered to provide the AH-64E with maritime tracking capabilities.
In April 2006, control tests of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) weapon payload began from the AH-64D Block III prepared for this purpose. On this occasion the Apache controlled an Unmanned Little Bird (ULB) UAV technology demonstrator from the ground via a L3 Communications Tactical Common Data Link connection. The ULB UAV was an A/MH-6 helicopter converted to be controlled remotely. During the tests, the Apache‘s gunner fired the Hellfire missiles carried by the ULB from several miles away without hardware modifications. These tests were part of the Airborne Manned/Unmanned System Technology Demonstration (AMUST-D) program. In July of this same year, a contract worth $619.3 million was signed to continue and integrate the technologies of the AH-64D Block III program into the existing Apache Longbow helicopters fleet.
In November 2009 the first AH-64D Apache Block III performed the first structural test flight. Structural improvements included were a composite main rotor blade, composite horizontal stabilator and a new General Electric T700-701D engine equipped with a new digital control unit. In addition, new components were included in the transmission that improves power by 20% without the need to modify its design. Finally, the first two AH-64E Apache Guardian were delivered to the US Army in November 2011 as part of a contract for the conversion of 51 AH-64D helicopters. The US Army expected to have a total of 690 AH-64E helicopters within a period of no more than 10 years. On these new helicopters the Longbow mast mounted radar is optional and can be installed on any AH-64E if deemed necessary.
In April 2016, a contract was signed for the conversion of another 117 AH-64D Apache Longbow to the new AH-64E Apache Guardian model along with spares, logistical support and Longbow Crew Trainers simulators for a total ammount of $1.5 billion. By this time, the conversion of 290 AH-64D into AH-64E had already been contracted. On these dates, the number of AH-64Es produced reached 500 units, including conversions and newly manufactured ones. As of July 2016, 149 AH-64Es had been delivered to the US Army. These helicopters had completed more than 60,000 flight hours, of which 17,000 had been combat flying hours.
In mid-March 2017, the American Government signed a new contract for the conversion of another 244 AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters for the US Army and the manufacture of another 24 new ones for a foreign client over a period of 5 years and for an amount of $3.4 billion. In mid-June 2020, the 2,500th AH-64 Apache left the production line in Mesa, Arizona. The 2,500th helicopter was an AH-64E destined for the US Army. The first Apache left the factory on September 30, 1983 and since then 17 countries have been users of this model in its different variants. According to Boeing figures, as of June 2020, 937 AH-64As had been built from 1983 to 1997, more than 1,000 AH-64Ds between 1997 and 2013 and more than 500 AH-64Es since 2011, and the number continues to increase. In fact, in April 2023 there were already 730 Apache Guardians delivered to a dozen countries.
In early 2020, it was reported that integration testing of the Israeli Spike NLOS long-range anti-tank missile had been completed. This missile has a declared range of 25 km, but during tests, an AH-64E hit a target 32 km away. In March 2023 Boeing announced that it would produce another 184 AH-64Es for the US Army and various foreign customers for $2.1 billion. The US Army will receive another 115 remanufactured and 15 optional new AH-64Es, while the other 54 helicopters will be distributed to various countries within the Foreign Military Sales program, including some for the Australian Army. According to some sources, at the end of 2023 the US Army had 439 AH-64Es in service.
In March 2014 the Apache Guardian was deployed for combat missions for the first time. The 1st–229th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion deployed 24 AH-64Es to Afghanistan and there they carried out missions until November 2014, with an availability of 88%, much higher than that of the previous AH-64D Apache Longbow. In this period, the AH-64E accumulated about 11,000 flight hours, with an average of 66 flight hours per month per helicopter.
The Apache Guardian improved response capacity by 57% compared to the Apache Longbow, and was capable of remaining in the combat area for up to 3.5 hours thanks to greater fuel efficiency. In combat the AH-64E was 32 km/h faster than the AH-64D and its ability to control UAVs allowed them to see the battlefield in real time from a safe distance and conduct direct-fire engagements for longer time.
In December 2021, Boeing was awarded a contract for the development of a future modernization for the AH-64E designated as “Version 6.5” or “Modernized Apache” (on the image) that will include a new improved turbine engine and updated software. At the beginning of 2023, the first prototype was being prepared and in October of this same year the first AH-64E v6.5 made its first flight. This variant will have a reinforced fuselage with parts made of composites that will improve ballistic protection, and its range will also be increased. It will also include a new modernized diagnostic system that will improve operating costs and operational readiness. The main and tail rotors will be modernized and the power of the engines will be increased, which will allow greater payload and extend the time between inspections.
Modernized Apache (on the image) will have an improved flight control system that reduces crew workload, and new and more powerful processors that improve communications and interoperability with its own and allied forces. The crew station has been modernized with new touchscreen displays and a bi-ocular color helmet display system that improves the pilot’s response. Finally, combat capability has also been reinforced with the installation of new long range precision munitions, ability to use Air Launched Effects (ALE) and the possibility to use future directed-energy weapons (laser) controlled by a new advanced crew station interface. Air Launched Effects (ALE) are small loitering UAVs launched from the helicopter itself to gather information or attack targets from a distance without exposing themselves to the enemy (stand-off). They are launched in flight and can be recoverable or single-use UAVs.
Taiwan was one of the first countries to order the new AH-64E. In October 2008 it requested the sale of 30 AH-64D Block III Apache Longbow (later AH-64E), 173 Stinger Block I Airto-Air missiles, 1,000 AGM-114L Hellfire Longbow missiles and numerous equipment and spare parts for a total cost of $2.53 billion. In November 2016 the Army Aviation Command received the first 6 helicopters (on the image) and by the end of 2014 all Apache Guardians had been delivered. In April 2014, one of them crashed into a building, being the first AH-64E lost in the world. There are currently 28 Apache Guardians left in service.
In July 2012, Qatar requested the sale of 24 Apache Guardian helicopters, 8 AN/APG-78 Fire Control Radars (FCR) with Radar Electronics Unit (LONGBOW component), 2,500 AGM-114R Hellfire missiles, and 25 Hellfire Captive Air Training Missiles ( CATM) for $3.0 billion, a proposal that was authorized in March 2014. In March 2019, the Qatari Air Force received the first AH-64E (on the image) and by the end of 2023, 10 units had already been delivered.
In September 2012, South Korea submitted a request for the acquisition of 36 AH-64Es (on the image) along with Longbow Crew Trainer training equipment and logistical support for a cost of $1.6 billion. The first 4 helicopters were delivered in May 2016 and in January 2017 the entire fleet of 36 aircraft was already active. Although the Apache Guardian lacked air-to-air capability, South Korean helicopters are capable of launching short-range Stinger air-to-air missiles.
At the end of August 2013, Indonesia signed a contract for the acquisition of 8 AH-64Es (on the image) for $500 million for its National Army Aviation Command. Deliveries began in the summer of 2017 and the 8 helicopters purchased are currently operational.
At the end of September 2015, India signed an agreement for the purchase of 22 AH-64E Apache (on the image) for the Air Force. The first of the Indian Air Force’s AH-64Es made the maiden flight in mid-July 2018 and the delivery of the first helicopter was on May 2019. In June 2020, the last of the 22 Apache Guardians was delivered to the Air Force. In February 2020, the US Government approved the sale of another 6 AH-64Es for the Indian Army Aviation Corps. These helicopters will be deployed in Jodhpur, near the border with Pakistan and are estimated to be in service from July 2024.
In July 2016, the British Government and Boeing signed an agreement for the conversion of 50 WAH-64 Apache AH1 to the AH-64E v6 variant (on the image), the most modern currently in service, in service for a cost of $2.3 billion. On this occasion, the British AH-64E will have the same engines as the other Apache Guardians, the General Electric T700-701D. Although these engines are less powerful than the Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322 of the WAH-64 variant, thanks to an upgraded face gear transmission, the engines can run at maximum power almost all the time.
The first British remanufactured AH-64E (on the image) was delivered in November 2020 and it is expected that in the summer of 2024, the 50 helicopters purchased will have been delivered. In January 2022, the British Army and Boeing signed a $348 million Long Term Training and Support Services (LTTSS) contract for maintenance and logistical and engineering support for the AH-64E. This contract will last until 2040 and includes the training of flight and maintenance personnel and represents the creation of up to 200 jobs in the United Kingdom.
In December 2016, the United Arab Emirates requested the acquisition of 37 AH-64E helicopters (on the image) and numerous remanufactured and spare equipment, including T700-GE-701D engines for a total of $3.5 billion. Of the 37 Apache Guardian requested, 27 were remanufactured and 9 new, it is unknown if they have already been delivered or are in the process of being delivered. In November 2018, the United States approved the sale of 10 AH-64E to Egypt, 24 General Electric 1700-GE-701D engines, 12 modernized TADS/PNVS systems, 135 Hellfire missiles and numerous equipment for a cost of $1.0 billion. Apparently, at the end of 2023 there were no Apache Guardians in service.
In 2019, the Dutch Ministry of Defense signed a contract for the transformation of 28 AH-64D to the AH-64E v6 variant (on the image) plus 17 APG-78 fire control radars. It is expected that all 28 helicopters will have been delivered to the RNLAF before the end of 2025, with the first of them having been delivered in October 2022. In June 2020, Morocco placed an order for 24 AH-64Es to be delivered starting in 2024.
Saudi Arabia has been another user of Apache for a long time, and in 2017 requested an order for AH-64E helicopters for a cost of $3.27 billion. At the end of 2023 there were 36 in service, of which 24 were operated by the Army (on the image) and the other 12 were operated by the Saudi National Guard. In addition, it seems that they will soon receive another 22 Apache Guardians, 12 for the Army and 10 for the Saudi Royal Guard. In July 2019, the Australian Army began studies to replace its Eurocopter Tiger ARH combat helicopters within the Project Land 4503 program. In January 2021, it was announced that the chosen one was the AH-64E Apache Guardian, of which 29 units were to be acquired between 2023 and 2028.
In September 2022, the Polish Government announced the acquisition of 96 AH-64Es within the “Kruk” (Raven) Program. This program will allow the formation of 6 Apache Guardian squadrons and includes the participation of numerous Polish companies in the defense sector. The order includes 210 T700-GE 701D engines, 97 M-TADS/PNVS systems, 37 AN/APG-78 mast mounted fire control radars, 37 Longbow fire control radars, 1,844 AGM-114R2 Hellfire missiles, 460 AGM-179A Joint Air-to-Ground Missiles (JAGM), 508 Stinger 92K Block I air-to-air missiles, 7,650 WGU-59/B Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II (APKWS-II) guidance sections and numerous other equipment for an estimated total cost of $12.0 billion.

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