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The newest version of the AH-64E Apache has successfully flown with an upgraded capabilities suite as Boeing continues to modernize the platform. The upgraded E-model Apache, known as Version 6.5, or V6.5, is the next configuration of the world’s premier attack helicopter.
“We saw our hard work come to life with this first flight,” said Christina Upah, vice president of Attack Helicopter Programs and senior Boeing Mesa site executive, in a Boeing news release. “These enhancements will take the E-model Apache to the next level in terms of capabilities, ensuring Apaches continue to dominate future battlefields.”
V6.5, awarded by the US Department of Defense in December 2021, includes software updates enhancing capabilities and improving the pilot interface. Some of those enhancements include:
“We’re very excited about the ongoing development of the V6.5 software as it paves the way for Apache modernization,” Col. John (Jay) Maher, US Army Apache project manager, said. “V6.5 aligns the entire E model fleet under the same software, streamlining training and maintenance while providing a pathway for sensor/capability parity, and enables the Army to address mandates and critical technologies. Ensuring relevance into the future is a top priority.”
Building onto V6.5, the company is working with the US Army to integrate the Improved Turbine Engine (ITE). The engine, a General Electric Aerospace T901, will offer improvements in reach, available power, time on station and fuel efficiency, as well as sustainment improvements like health and usage monitoring, maintenance and engine lifespan.
The AH-64 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.
A target acquisition and designation sight/pilot night-vision sensor and other advanced technologies added to its effectiveness in the ground support role. To reduce costs and simplify logistics, the Apache used the same T700 engines as the Army’s Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter and its naval cousin, the SH-60 Seahawk.
Photo credit: Boeing
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