What is it?
The Longbow Apache is a two-engine, four-bladed, tandem seat, attack helicopter armed with a 30-millimeter cannon, 2.75-inch rockets, and Hellfire missiles. It is the heavy attack helicopter of the current and future force. It is capable of conducting the full spectrum of warfare from stability and support operations to major combat operations, including the missions of armed reconnaissance, close combat, mobile strike, and vertical maneuver when required in day, night, obscured battlefield, and adverse weather conditions, in support of the Joint/combined arms commander’s scheme of maneuver.
What has the Army done?
The Apache helicopter has continued to demonstrate its high level of effectiveness, survivability, and lethality in combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Nonetheless, the Army determined that critical capability gaps currently exist in the areas of aircraft performance, digital interoperability, operations and support, multi-spectral sensors, and cognitive decision aiding. These identified capability gaps served as the basis for determining the corresponding requirements and next set of upgrades to the Apache helicopter.
What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
The Army is modernizing the Apache fleet to the Block III configuration. Longbow Block III addresses the critical capability gaps through the incorporation of several hardware and software technology insertions into the aircraft. The Army will initially remanufacture its Block I Longbow Apaches into the Block III configuration, followed by remanufacture of its Block II Longbow Apaches. The first deliveries of Block III will be in FY11, with the first unit equipped in late FY2012.
Why is this important to the Army?
The Apache helicopter Block III is a network-centric, multi-role weapon system, fully interoperable with Joint, current, and future force systems. It is linked to Joint and combined arms air/ground maneuver teams via advanced line of sight/beyond line of sight, voice and digital communications. It operates in support of brigade combat teams to enable the air-ground synergy required for armed reconnaissance, mobile strike, close combat, and vertical maneuver missions in the contemporary operating environment. Additionally, Block III conducts shaping operations, enables precision engagement, and provides actionable combat information. It is deployable and requires fewer sustainment resources through enhanced reliability and improved diagnostics.