Touting it as the next evolution of the current AH-64E v6 attack helicopter, the Modernized Apache can be differentiated externally from the classic Apache by its longer wing.
During AUSA 2022, Boeing took the opportunity to unveil its Modernized Apache concept to leaders of the US Army, Alert 5 first noted.
Touting it as the next evolution of the current AH-64E v6 attack helicopter, the Modernized Apache can be differentiated externally from the classic Apache by its longer wing, which allows it to have three hard points per wing, upward-facing engine exhaust and the substitution of the chain gun with a laser turret.
According to Boeing website, ‘current Army plans call for the Apache to remain operational and an integral part of the service’s aviation forces for decades.
‘At Boeing, we understand that for the Army to maintain rotorcraft dominance in future Multi-Domain Operations (MDO), the Apache needs to be optimized to complement the next-generation platforms in the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) ecosystem. Moreover, we believe that it’s incumbent on all of us in the industry to keep bringing forward the best ideas and innovative solutions to meet the emerging and future needs of our Soldiers with speed and affordability.
‘And so, Boeing is proud and excited to introduce the Modernized Apache — a dominant, affordable concept built on the combat-proven Apache platform that represents the next evolution of the current AH-64E v6.
‘The Modernized Apache concept is capable of seamlessly and effectively meeting the Army’s evolving attack and reconnaissance requirements — including increased agility, interoperability, lethality, survivability and reach.
‘It also leverages, protects and preserves the established, worldwide industrial base already mature and in place to support future Apache engineering, manufacturing, development and production.’
To ensure that the Army can operate, fight and win on the future MDO battlefield, the Modernized Apache will embrace and integrate cutting-edge technology to keep delivering the options and tools needed to support Soldiers on the ground.
The following six modernization elements provide the framework for the Apache’s evolution into the Modernized concept and offer the blueprint for continued dominance:
- Drivetrain upgrades to unlock Improved Turbine Engine (ITE) capabilities for enhanced power, range, efficiency and speed;
- A Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) for maximum interoperability, and faster integration and fielding of advanced capabilities;
- Advanced mission systems to increase interoperability to the network and to reduce pilot cognitive strain and workload during operations;
- Advanced sensors and sensor fusion for better and more resilient connectivity across domains and operations in all environmental conditions;
- Airborne long-range precision munitions, Air Launched Effects (ALE) and potential future directed energy weapon system integration for increased lethality; and
- Advanced sustainment through a more capable and lower life cycle cost airframe, as well as affordable remanufacture and minimized procurement costs.
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.
Highly maneuverable and heavily armed, the combat-proven Apache helicopter is the backbone of the US Army’s all-weather, ground-support capability. The AH-64D Apache Longbow, which first flew as a prototype on May 14, 1992, provided a quantum leap in capability over the AH-64A. The Apache Longbow’s fire-control radar and advanced avionics suite gave combat pilots the ability to rapidly detect, classify, prioritize, and engage stationary or moving enemy targets at standoff ranges in nearly all-weather conditions. There is also an international Apache export version.
In 2003, the Army accepted the first advanced technology Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow, referred to as Block II. The Block II version incorporated advanced avionics, digital enhancements and communications upgrades.
In 2011, Boeing delivered the first AH-64D Apache Block III multirole attack helicopter to the Army. Block III brought superior flight performance and increased networked communications capabilities. The AH-64D Apache Block III was renamed the AH-64E Apache “Guardian” in 2012.
From the AH-64A in 1984 to today’s AH-64E Version 6, or v6, the Apache has grown in leaps and bounds — time and again exceeding expectations and redefining the capabilities of the platform. The Apache has proven to be an extremely lethal attack helicopter platform as well as a very powerful and effective Reconnaissance platform.
Photo credit: Boeing