British Army Apache AH1 taking off

The Apache can operate in all weathers, day or night, and can detect, classify and prioritise up to 256 potential targets at a time.

Apart from the ‘Longbow’ mast-mounted fire control radar, the aircraft is equipped with a 127 x magnification TV system, 36 x magnification thermal imaging, and 18 x magnification direct view optics.


The missile system incorporates Semi-Active Laser and Radio Frequency versions of the Hellfire missile, whose range is at least 6 kms. Apart from the Rolls-Royce engines, specific British Army requirements include a secure communications suite and a Helicopter Integrated Defensive Aids System (HIDAS). Programme cost is some £3 billion.

The UK MoD ordered 67 Apache based on the US Army AH-64D manufactured by Boeing in 1995. Boeing built the first eight aircraft, and partially assembled the other 59.

The UK Westland helicopter company undertook final assembly, flight testing and programme support at their Yeovil factory.

It is believed that an air to air weapon capability will continue to be investigated and trials of the Shorts Starstreak missile onboard an AH 64 have continued in the US. Any longer term decision to proceed will be based on the results of these US Army trials. The night vision system of 67 Apache AH Mk1 attack helicopters is to be upgraded in the near future.

The M-TADS/PNVS, which is designated Arrowhead, will replace the existing forward-looking infra-red (FLIR) and daylight television image intensifier with new sensors to provide improved target identification over longer ranges, better pilot performance and reduced life-cycle costs. Army Air Corps (AAC) aviators are said to have been keen to proceed with the upgrade, because the damp UK climate significantly degrades the effectiveness of the existing Target Acquisition and Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor.

The Apache AH Mk 1 presents a completely new capability for the AAC with significant implications for Air Manoeuvre doctrine in Land and Joint Operations. The Apache certainly gives the British Army the ‘punch’ necessary for operations during the next decade.

The Hellfire anti-tank guided guided missile (ATGW) has a range approaching 6 kms and is capable of defeating all types of armour.

The Hellfire anti-tank guided guided missile (ATGW) has a range approaching 6 kms and is capable of defeating all types of armour.

The missile has a length of 1.78 metres and weighs 43.1 kg. The guidance system is semi-active laser homing. These aircraft had a significant effect upon operations during the 1991 Gulf War where the US Army deployed 288 x AH-64 Apache in 15 Army Aviation battalions.


The US Army claimed that these aircraft destroyed 120 x APCs, 500 x MBT, 120 x artillery guns, 10 radar installations, 10 x helicopters, 30 x air defence units, about 300 soft-skinned vehicles and 10 x fixed-wing aircraft on the ground. 



A single Army Aviation AH-64 battalion is believed to have destroyed 40 x APCs and over 100 x MBT in an engagement that lasted over three hours, firing 107 Hellfire missiles and over 300 x 70 mm rockets.

APACHE Specifications
Type Attack helicopter
Manufacturer Augusta Westland
Accommodation Two (pilot and weapons operator)
Armament CRV-7 80 mm rockets, Hellfire missiles, 30 mm nose mounted chain gun

Cruise speed 259kmh (140kts)

Main Rotor Diameter 14.63m
Length 17.7m
Height 4.95m
Weight max take off weight 8,160kg
Powerplant Two Rolls Royce turbomeca RTM322 producing 2100shp (1566kw)

Photo 1 Copyright Alasdair Taylor