|Title:||AH-64 D Longbow|
|Released:||2001 | Rebox (Updated/New parts)|
The real helicopter
|Type||Twin seat combat helicopter|
|Dimensions||Length: 17.75 m, Height: 5.11 m, Main rotor span: 14.63 m, Tail rotor span: 2.79 m|
|Performance||Max. speed: 365 kph, Ceiling: 6.4 km, Max. range: 689 km|
|Weight||Empty: 4,881 kg , Max. weight: 9,525 kg|
|Engine||Two General Electric T700-GE-701 engines rated at 1,536 hp each|
|Armaments||30 mm single barreled M230 cannon with 1,200 rounds, up to 16 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, four unguided rocket packs, detachable fuel tanks|
A twin seat combat helicopter for day and night fighting, especially against ground targets such as tanks and SAMs. Its main contribution is in routine security operations in Lebanon and in attack sorties, like the ones carried out against Hizballah targets in Beirut.
The service art the Israeli Air force
The IAF evaluates the Apache
In 1983, the Apache was still under development, and its manufacturer, Hughes, was looking for a way to test its performance in action. The company contacted the IAF, and asked to conduct the experiment in Israel. The IAF agreed, and on June 9th the experimental Apache arrived in Israel, and promptly joined the Cobra squadron. Besides the American pilots, three IAF pilots were chosen to test the helicopter: a pilot from the IAF’s Flight Test Center, the commander of the Cobra Squadron, and another pilot from the squadron.
The experiment lasted one month, during which the Israeli pilots accumulated 50 flight hours on the Apache. Technical and operational evaluations were carried out, as well as weapons tests, including firing a live Hellfire missile.
Emphasis was placed on testing the Apache’s FLIR night vision system. The pilots tried flying the helicopter at night, using systems that they had been previously unfamiliar with. At the end of the series of tests, the IAF test pilots recommended purchasing the Apache. An Israeli delegation arrived at USAFB Fort Rucker, Al., for additional evaluation of the chopper. The purpose of the visit was to get a more thorough impression of the Apache, and verify that the performance specs reported by the manufacturer were indeed fully realistic.
“In the US, we found that everything we had previously known about the Apache was accurate”, recalls Col. (res.) Har’el, who headed the delegation. “Our final conclusion was that the helicopter gives a solution for the IAF’s combat needs, and that purchasing it would be a true breakthrough in terms of attack capability and coordinated misions. For us – the Apache was everything you ever dreamed about, and never dared to ask for”.
Two months later, in January of 1989, the delegation handed the IAF Commander a detailed report, in which its members affirmed that the helicopter was indeed an excellent choice for Heyl Ha’avir. On January 17th 1990, the crew assigned to oversee the Apache’s entry into the IAF went out to Fort Rucker, in order to retrain on the Apache and bring the choppers to Israel. The crew was led by Col. Moshe, the Cobra Squadron’s commander, who was chosen to be the first Apache squadron’s commander.
A deal was signed for purchasing 18 A model Apaches, Hellfire missiles, and a maintenace package.
The Apaches land in Israel
The first two Apaches arrived in Israel in the cargo bay of an El Al Boeing 747, on the night of September 12th 1990. The helicopters’ official welcoming ceremony had been set for the following day, and they were assembled at a record time of 11 hours – half of the time specified for assembly by the manufacturer. The Apaches made it on time to the ceremony, and received the Hebrew name ‘Peten’ (Adder).
Initiation into combat
On October 24th 1990, about a month and a half after the squadron’s establishment, the Apaches carried out their first operational assignment in Heyl Ha’avir. They were sent to attack a structure used by terrorist forces in the Rashidiyeh refugee camp in Lebanon.
Col. M., who participated in the mission: “It was a very large target, so it was almost impossible to miss. The operation was highly secret, and only a few people knew it had been carried out. When we came back to the squadron, a lot of the guys were under the impression that we had returned from a training mission. Over time, the operational sorties became less and less secret, and more crews participated in them”.
The Apaches continue to be very much involved in routine security activity in Lebanon, and in pinpoint strikes against terrorist targets there.
A gift of Apaches
On the night of September 12th 1993, three years to the day from the establishment of the first Apache squadron, four American Galaxy C-5s landed in an IAF base, carrying 24 Apache AH-64A helicopters, which had been given to Israel as a gift. The Galaxy C-5s landed, one by one, at intervals of two hours, each discharging its cargo of Apaches onto an offload ramp. The entire offloading operation was over in 12 hours, and the Apaches were towed from the runway to the section of the base that houses the Maintenance Squadron.
A second Apache squadron is born
A short time after the Apaches arrived from the USA, it was decided to establish a second Apache squadron. The new choppers were stored in an IAF base in southern Israel, while the first Apache squadron carried out a large scale training project for the young pilots, fresh out of the Pilot Training Course and the Advanced Training Course who would fly the Apaches. The second squadron was inaugurated on March 22nd 1995, once the new Apaches – and their new pilots – had been readied for service.
Operation ‘Grapes of Wrath’
In early 1996, the Hizballah scaled up its operations against the IDF in Israel’s Security Zone. Shimon Peres’s government decided to abandon its policy of restraint, and to hit back, hard. On April 11th, the IDF began a large scale operation against Hizballah positions in Southern Lebanon, named ‘Grapes of Wrath’.
On the first day of fighting, an Apache shot a Hellfire missile into the building that housed the Hizballah’s Operational Headquarters in Beirut. The missile penetrated the building’s first floor with perfect accuracy.
These missions, it turned out, were precisely suited for the Apache’s size and capabilities. The Apache’s Hellfires are guided by laser, and intended for pinpoint targeting. Together with its advanced avionics, its robustness, and its ability to operate in any kind of weather, day or night, made the Apache a key player in the IAF’s war against the Hizballah.
The A Model
The a model carried out its maiden flight in September of 1975, and was seen as a very advanced helicopter for its time. It was considered to be immune to machine gun bullets with a caliber of up to 12.7 mm., and most of its systems could take hits from 23 mm. mortar shells as well. The Apache A boasted an advanced night vision system which made it the first combat helicopter to have full night-fighting and low visibility capabilities.
The AH-64A – as the model is designated in the US Army – is equipped with two General Electric T700-GE-701 engines, supplying 1,723 hp. each. These engines are what gives the Apache its unrivaled maneuverability and cargo carry capacity. 925 units have been produced to date, most of them for the US Army.
On January 17th 1991, the A-Model Apache fired the opening shots of the Gulf War in an attack on Iraqi radar posts. The Apache’s destroyed hundreds of Iraqi tanks in the course of the war.
The D Model
The improved ‘Longbow’ Apache, which first took to the air on April 1st 1992. The Longbow has a unique missile system, produced by Lockheed-Martin, made up of a millimetric-wave radar installed over the main rotor, and laser guided Hellfire missiles. This system gives the Hellfires greater range and enhanced accuracy. The laser guided Hellfires are ‘fire and forget’ missiles, that do not require guidance from the helicopter after being fired.
Other improvements in the D model include computer screens in the cockpit (instead of the various dials) and stronger engines (T700-GE-701C engines rated at 1,857 hp.).
Hughes developed the Apache in the mid-1970s, after weighing the lessons learned in Vietnam. The advanced attack helicopter was intended to block the Warsaw Pact’s large armored force, in the event that it mounted an invasion of West Germany.
The Apache is robust enough to take direct hits from a large number of shells and keep on going. Its strong engines enable it to fly at over 360 kph and to climb very quickly, even in reverse flight.
Several systems combine to create the Apache’s night fighting capability. A PVNS night vision system gives the pilot the ability to see, even in conditions of total darkness. It accomplishes this by sensing heat given off by various objects, generating a picture and displaying it on the monitor in the cockpit and in on the eyepiece in the pilot’s helmet.
An optical TADS system for laser targeting and designation guides the Apache’s Hellfires to their targets. The Hellfire missiles – the Apache’s chief armament – is intended for use against armor and buildings. It is highly accurate, even from long range. The Apache is armed with up to 16 missiles, or four rocket packs. Its armament includes a single-barreled M230 30 mm. cannon with up to 1,200 rounds. In addition, the helicopter can carry detachable fuel tanks, for augmenting its range and the time it can spend in the scene of the action before turning back to refuel.