05 Mar 04. Representatives from Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Longbow International gave BATTLESPACE briefings with regard to the proposed upgrades to the U.S. Army’s Apache fleet during AUSA Florida. Al Winn and Mike Burke said that there were 170 Apaches from 9 Battalions in operation during Operation Iraqi Freedom. “They paved the way for the Army from Kuwait right through to Kabala and Baghdad,” Al Winn told BATTLESPACE. “During the conflict the Iraqis change tactics and concealed their tanks in urban situations; leading our Apaches to attack in unfriendly condition leading to 32 of the 33 aircraft involved being shot up but with no loss of life and one aircraft lost. (This aircraft was latterly located by a Global Hawk UAV having been buried in a trench by the Iraqis). During the conflict Apaches flew 50000 hours with an 80% readiness and were credited with the destruction of at least 3 Divisions worth of vehicles. In fact the pilots were told in the latter stages to leave off truck targets as the vehicles would be needed for the new Iraqi Army, post-war.”
“There were a number of lessons learnt,” Winn continued, “These included the formation of Aviation Units of Action, with Aviation being pushed into Brigade -sized units and a number of improvements for the proposed Block III version.”
of Northrop Grumman told BATTLESPACE that the proposed fleet of Apaches fro the Army of the future was 284 ‘D’ models, 184 of which would be modified to Block III status up to 2011 and 217 ‘D’ Models which may be converted, although these were still being delivered. In addition there would be approximately 1000 ‘A’ models relegated to National Guard status
The main enhancement for Block III models would be in the processing power of the target acquisition radar. These include, a new algorithm for operations over water, improved frequency and automatic target recognition with the Lockheed Martin Arrowhead TADS/PNVS system. The Programmable Signal Processor would be equipped with seven uprated open architecture cards intended for the Comanche. “These cards would save 2.1 cu.ft and 5lbs. in weight” BATTLESPACE was told BY Paul Cooke from Longbow International. The improvements would mean an extension of the Moving target Indicator (MTI) range from 18 – 16 kms and extending stationary target range to 8 kms.
The RFI radar warning device would be improved giving an extended band at the high and low end, adding more threats, with passive ranging which enables two machines to triangulate and identify the target.
Mike Burke of Boeing told BATTLESPACE that other enhancements included a new composite rotor blade, the ability to fold the rotor blades to allow for instant readiness for action after landing from C-17 and a new enhanced gearbox and engine, the GE-701D. The aircraft would also be zero-lifed for airframe life requirements. The first delivery would be in 2008 at a rate of 12 per month.
However when asked what the downside was for Longbow International named Northrop Grumman in particular for the Comanche cancellation, the net cost is 250 radar systems lost in the budget. “However we hope that the new recce helicopter once chosen will be equipped with a number of sensor systems which will enable us to deliver some of the Comanche technology to the new force.”