By Ms. Sofia Bledsoe (ASA (ALT))November 27, 2013
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- In the capable hands of the soldiers of the 1-229th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, the AH-64E Apache attack helicopters have achieved Initial Operating Capability, the U.S. Army's latest acquisition milestone for the program on schedule.
The Apache battalion, known as "Tigersharks", commanded by Lieutenant Colonel John P. 'Pat' Davis, was issued their first AH-64E Apache in January 2013. With fielding and individual training complete in May 2013, the battalion was designated as the Army's First Unit Equipped with the Army's newest attack helicopters. The unit completed three rotations at the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, California, High Altitude Mountainous Environment Training (HAMET) in Idaho, and Operation Rising Thunder exercise working with Japanese AH-64Ds at Yakima Training Center, Washington.
In a ceremony at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord home of the 1-229th ARB on November 21, 2013, the U.S. Army product manager for Longbow Apache, Lt. Col. Talmadge 'Tal' Sheppard declared, "This is a truly monumental achievement. The Tigersharks have displayed amazing flexibility and organization. Understanding all that must be accomplished prior to overseas deployment in early 2014, this unit's soldiers have been extremely busy, and successful."
At the ceremony, Boeing Vice President of Attack Helicopter Programs, David Koopersmith commended the soldiers of the battalion saying, "Boeing teammates are proud of our long-standing record of support of soldiers in designing, producing and delivering Apache helicopters. It's inspiring to see the carefully crafted technologies being effectively employed by well-trained aviators and maintainers."
Lt. Col. Davis, speaking about the accomplishments of the unit while fielding the Army's newest Apache helicopters, commended the soldiers of the 1-229th saying, "Throughout this high OPTEMPO, you've maintained a positive attitude. You've had an eagerness to excel and the veracity and professionalism has been unparalleled."
The 1-229th has flown more than 670 hours over the last month with an average operational tempo of 27 hours per airframe per month. To date, the AH-64 Apache fleet has accumulated more than 3.7 million hours, of which almost 6,000 are with the Echo model.
"Right now there are Soldiers out there in harm's way, and they know everything is going to be all right when they hear that Apache flying over the horizon," said Col. Jeffrey Hager, Project Manager for Apache Helicopters. "I'm extremely proud of the 1-229th and what they've achieved in such a short time. This is a remarkable milestone for Team Apache and our Army."
With the tight precision of a commander communicating over radio airwaves, Lt. Col. Davis summed up the AH-64E Apache battalion's achievement saying, "This is our initial operations capabilities check. We're a 'Go'."