The United States government has approved a direct sale of six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, also known as Apache Guardian, to the Indian military for $930 million, according to a PTI report. The deal is expected to go forward if no US lawmaker opposes it. The six AH-64Es are for service in the Indian Army’s Aviation Corps (AAC) and expected to be delivered by 2020.
The deal includes the sale of 180 AGM-114L-3 Hellfire Longbow missiles, 90 AGM-114R-3 Hellfire II missiles, 200 Stinger Block I-92H missiles, next to 30 mm cannons and ammunition.
AH-64E Apache Guardian
The AH-6E Apache is the world’s most advanced multi-role combat helicopter and is used by the U.S. Army and a growing number of international defence forces. Boeing has delivered more than 2,200 Apaches to customers around the world since the aircraft entered production. The U.S. Army Apache fleet has accumulated (as of July 2016) more than 4.2 million flight hours since the first AH-64E was delivered to the U.S. Army in January 1984.
The AH-6E Apache was designed to be an extremely tough survivor under combat. The prototype Apache made its first flight in 1975 as the YAH-64, and in 1976, Hughes received a full-scale development contract. In 1982, the Army approved the program, now known as AH-64A Apache, for production. Deliveries began from the McDonnell Douglas plant at Mesa, Ariz., in 1984 — the year Hughes Helicopters became part of McDonnell Douglas.
Formerly known as AH-64D Block III, in 2012, it was re-designated as AH-64E Guardian to represent its increased capabilities.The AH-64E features improved digital connectivity, the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System, more powerful T700-GE-701D engines with upgraded face gear transmission to accommodate more power,capability to control unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), full IFR capability, and improved landing gear. New composite rotor blades, which successfully completed testing in 2004, increase cruise speed, climb rate, and payload capacity. Deliveries began in November 2011. Full-rate production was approved on 24 October 2012, with 634 AH-64Ds to be upgraded to AH-64E standard and production of 56 new-build AH-64Es to start in 2019/20. Changes in production lots 4 through 6 shall include a cognitive decision aiding system and new self-diagnostic abilities.
AH-64E – Capabilities
The Apache AH-64E is fitted with more powerful General Electric T700-GE-701D engines, developing 1,994 shp instead on the 1 800 shp on the previous versions. Also it has upgraded transmission to coupe with extra power. The AH-64E has new composite rotor blades. These are designed to withstand hits from 23 mm anti-aircraft guns. Maximum speed of this helicopter is up to 300 km/h.
This gunship comes with new sensors, avionics and has improved night operation capabilities. Furthermore the AH-64E helicopter can control a couple of UAVs.
This attack helicopter is operated by a crew of 2, including pilot and gunner.
There are numerous features to protect the crew and increase survivability of the helicopter. The airframe is designed to withstand hits from guns of up to 12.7 mm caliber. Rotor blades can withstand hits from 23 mm guns. A large flat-plate canopy is fitted with boran armor. Crew members are seated on crash-resistant seats.
The AH-64E has infra-red suppressing exhaust system and is equipped with chaff and flare dispensers. Both of these features combined reduce the chance of being hit by enemy air defence missiles.
Both crew members use various sophisticated sensors and systems for the detection and attack of targets. Their helmets have an integrated helmet sighting system.
The AH-64E comes with a 30 mm M230 cannon with 1 200 rounds of ammunition. It has 4 hard-point on stub wings and can carry various missiles. Armament is being tailored, depending on mission requirements. The AH-64E can carry up to 16 AGM-114R Hellfire 2 anti-tank guided missiles. For self defence against hostile helicopters the Apache Guardian can carry up to two AIM-9 Sidewinder, four AIM-92 Stinger, or four Mistral air-to-air missiles. It can also carry two AGM-122 Sidearm air-to-ground anti-radiation missiles, that can target hostile radars. The gunship is often equipped with 19-shot pods with Hydra 70 unguided rockets. The helicopter can carry up to 4 of these pods.
The updated radar has an oversea capacity, potentially enabling naval strikes; an AESA radar is under consideration. The E model is to be fit for maritime operations. The US Army has expressed its desire to add extended-range fuel tanks to the AH-64E to further increase range and endurance, India is likely to get this upgrade as this will benefit in its operation along the Indo-China border. AH-64Es are to have the L-3 Communications MUM-TX data-link installed in place of two previous counterparts, communicating on C, D, L, and Ku frequency bands to transmit and receive data and video with all Army UAVs. Lots 5 and 6 will be equipped with Link 16 data-links.
This attack helicopter might be fitted with a Longbow fire control radar, which is also used on the previous AH-64D variant. It gives the capability to fire AGM-114R Hellfire-2 anti-tank guided missiles in fire-and-forget mode. Without this radar the Hellfire-2 missiles are launched in the line-of-sight manner. The radar can detect, classify and prioritise 12 targets simultaneously, and can see through the fog an smoke, that foils infra-red or TV sensors. (Text courtesy: Military-Today)