The Ah-64 Apache is a tandem attack helicopter manufactured for the US Air Force by Hughes Helicopters, then McDonnell Douglas and currently by Boeing Defense, Space and Security.
The Apache first took flight in 1975 and was officially introduced in 1986. It started life as the Model 77, a replacement for the AH-1 Cobra which was adapted from the UH-1 Iroquois or “Huey”.
Since the Cobra was not a ground-up attack helicopter it had several performance limitations, most of which were addressed in the design of the Apache.
The Apache is a formidable and iconic war machine. This twin-engine, four-blade tandem helicopter has a highly advanced nose-mounted sensor system. This allows pilots to acquire targets in a variety of ways, including at night in darkness.
The Apache is equipped with a 30 mm M230 chaingun and four hardpoints that accept a range of powerful arms. Usually the loadout will consists of a mix that includes the proven Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70 rocket pods.
The Apache was built to withstand a significant amount of damage. There are many stories of pilots finding damage after landing that would have lead to a crash in another gunship. This is largely due to the high level of system redundancy the Apache was designed with.
The Longbow variant of the Apache (the AH-64D) is equipped with a radar system mounted above the main rotor, which allows the helicopter to pop up from cover and acquire targets without being targeted in turn.
This amazing AN/APG-78 radome can track 128 targets simultaneously and engage 16 at the same time. The twin T700-GE-701C engines in the AH-64D are also upgrades over the standard Apache.
In total about 2000 Apaches have been built across all variants and it remains in service to this day.