Boeing and the AH-64 team are observing a unique milestone as the US Army’s AH-64 Apache attack helicopters have officially reached five million flight hours. The accomplishment is equivalent to flying nonstop for more than 208,333 days or 570 years and nine months. Additionally, 1.3 million of those five million flight hours were accomplished during combat.
“With more than five million flight hours, the Apache continues to be reliable, versatile and lethal,” said Katie Yursky, interim vice president of Attack Helicopter Programs and senior Mesa site executive, in a Boeing news release. “Congratulations to the U.S. Army and its Apache aviators on reaching this incredible milestone. Every hour counts, and we look forward to supporting our soldiers on their next milestone and beyond.”
Since 1984 when the first AH-64 took flight, the US Army has operated A, D and E-model Apaches. The US Army currently operates D-model Apaches in addition to the AH-64E Apache.
“It is such a great privilege and an honor to be a part of the Apache program,” Col. John (Jay) Maher, U.S Army Apache Project Manager, said. “The five million flight hours milestone is a testament to the reliability and availability of the Apache in some of the world’s most demanding conditions. Supporting the Soldiers who fly and maintain the Apache is priority one.”
Boeing is upgrading the E-model to Version 6.5, which will include updated software, and integrating the Army’s new improved turbine engine. Additionally, the company announced the Modernized Apache in October 2022, Boeing concept aligned with the US Army’s future modernization efforts, keeping the AH-64 a relevant, multi-domain lethal combat-multiplier for US warfighters and international customers.
Built by Boeing in Mesa, Ariz., the AH-64 is the attack aircraft of choice for 19 defense forces around the globe, with additional international interest. In September 2022, Poland announced the selection of Boeing’s AH-64E Apache for the Polish Armed Forces’ new attack helicopter fleet.
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.
Highly maneuverable and heavily armed, the combat-proven Apache helicopter is the backbone of the US Army’s all-weather, ground-support capability.
Photo credit: USA Military Channel YouTube
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