The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Army program officials to become creative in looking for ways to maintain schedules with modernization efforts.
Despite challenges associated with the COVID 19 pandemic, the Program Executive Office (PEO) Aviation’s Apache Attack Helicopter Project Management Office (PM Apache) leveraged the team’s unique structure, talents, and culture to set the stage to deliver the newest and most lethal version of the Apache helicopter into the hands of Soldiers.
The 1-229th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion (the Tigersharks) at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), Wash., is scheduled to be the first unit to receive the Apache AH-64E V6 aircraft in October. The potential for delays due to COVID-19 restrictions didn’t stop the PM Apache New Equipment Training Team (NETT) from conducting training and completed an on time graduation July 24th for the 1-229th ARB’s first 10 aviators who are now qualified in the Apache V6 aircraft.
“Technically we haven't started fielding aircraft to 1-229th,” said Steve Tibaldo, Product Support Manager of Apache Production & Fielding.. “In order to facilitate the NETT we sent four of our former test aircraft AH-64E V6 to JBLM. These aircraft were upgraded to V6 from a V4 configuration in order to perform all required testing and Follow-On Test and Evaluation II.”
The 1-229th is scheduled to get the first production V6 in October and will continue taking possession of aircraft until reaching their 24th in March 2021.
“The training gave the I-229th a head start,” Tibaldo said. “The Battalion can now fly to the Boeing Plant in Mesa (Ariz.) and pick up the aircraft themselves.”
Lt. Col. Kevin Easter, I-229th commander, appreciated the professionalism of PM Apache and the NETT on the flight line and in the classroom.
“The new version of the Apache helicopter will provide the Bayonet Division and I Corps with a more lethal, intelligent, and survivable platform to help the team destroy the enemy,” he said. “The sensor suite upgrades provide increased range and lethality. The improvements to the battalion’s tactical navigation, combined with the Cognitive Decision Aiding System, will better assist them in maneuvering to the target and destroying it.”
The next units slated to receive the AH-64E V6 are the 3rd Squadron 17th Cavalry Regiment out of Hunter Army Airfield, Savannah, Ga. and the 4th Aerial Reconnaissance Battalion (Attack), 2nd Aviation Regiment at Camp Humphreys, Korea.