The pilots of the 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment are undergoing AH-64E Apache helicopter familiarization training at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, as the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, fields the aircraft. The first class started March 24 and will run through April 19.
Currently, the main Apache model used by the brigade is the AH-64D.
“While the AH-64D and AH-64E look very similar, they are almost entirely different aircraft from a systems standpoint,” said Lt. Col. Jeffery Paulus, the commander of 3rd Sqn., 17th Cav. Regt. “The training the squadron’s pilots are currently undertaking is six weeks in length due to the myriad of new features and capabilities the AH-64E provides.”
The AH-64E Apache helicopter has an improved transmission and rotor system allowing the turboshaft engine to run more efficiently, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bobby Triantos, the aviation mission serviceability officer of 3rd Sqn., 17th Cav. Regt.
For the pilots this means they can use less power to accomplish the same mission. These mechanical improvements increase the AH-64E’s speed, travel distance and aircraft cargo load capabilities, Triantos continued.
The increase of efficiency in the drive system also means less wear on the mechanical components improving the aircraft’s reliability.
For the pilots, the biggest upgrade are the new avionics inside of the cockpit. The aircraft has new radios and antennas allowing the aircraft to communicate with more advanced instrument systems, Triantos said.
One such function the AH-64E model is capable of performing is full instrument flight, Triantos continued. Full instrument flight is when the pilot uses the information from the instruments in the cockpit to control and maneuver the aircraft. This means pilots can fly through low visibility conditions such as clouds and adverse weather. A capability the older D model did not have.
The improved communication systems also increase the aircraft’s ability to work in tandem with the unmanned aerial vehicles used by the brigade.
“Coupled with advancements in unmanned aerial systems and long-range precision weaponry, the AH-64E allows the squadron to locate, identify and engage enemy targets at ranges unheard of within previous generations, while remaining outside of the detection and engagement range of enemy air defense systems,” Paulus said.
The unit will continue rotating pilots through this training until October 2021.