-T / T / +T | Comment(s)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

First Flight of Block 3 Apache Prototype Set for July

MILITARY | ATTACK

The first flight of the prototype Block 3 version of the AH-64D Apache is scheduled for July 9, our sister publication Defense Daily reports.

Quoting officials of the aircraft’s manufacturer, Boeing, and the U.S. Army, Defense Daily said the Block 3 investment was made possible in part by the 2004 cancellation of the Boeing-Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche program.

"Block 3 will do everything the Comanche could do on the digital battlefield. The only thing it doesn’t bring to the warfight is low observable," Army Apache Project Manager Col. Derek Paquette said. "I can’t make it any skinnier. I’m sorry."

Making the "world’s best attack helicopter better" is vital, Paquette said. "Our adversaries are certainly investing in anti-helicopter technology."

He said the results of an analysis of operational performance showed "we were 28 times more effective" primarily in lethality and survivability with the Longbow than the A model. The Block 3 will show something similar, with a tremendous improvement in lethality and survivability.

The Block 3 Apache was not designed for Apache battalion commanders, Col. Mark Hayes, Army Training and Doctrine Command capabilities manager for attack aircraft, said at the Army Aviation Assn of America’s annual gathering outside Washington April 7. "The Block 3 Apache has capability that is absolutely essential to an infantry ground maneuver commander so that he can dictate the pace on the battlefield out there so those individual soldiers out there are not at risk," Hayes said. "The Block 3 Apache will see farther, shoot more accurately and, more important than that, it will deliver situational awareness down to the company and troop level — that young man or woman out there on the battlefield doesn’t have to run into unexpected trouble — and they will absolutely own the day, regardless of who you fight."

Al Winn, Boeing vice president of Apache programs, said the Block 3 system design and development is about 44 percent complete.

Live chat by BoldChat