FORT HOOD, Texas - The 302nd Squadron of the Royal Netherlands Air Force took delivery of two new AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters at Robert Gray Army Air Field here, Dec. 13.
During a ceremony in the unit’s hangar, the two new AH-64E Apache Guardian’s logbooks were handed over to the unit commander. The new Apaches are the first two that will be operated by the unit at Fort Hood. The 302nd Squadron will be responsible for the training of current and future pilots, as well as maintenance technicians in the coming years.
“This is just the start of a new era,” explained Dutch Lt. Col. Wilko de Waard, commander of the 302nd Squadron of the Royal Netherlands Air Force. “Having these aircraft over here makes us the first one to train aircrew maintenance personnel to get to the point where they can operate in multi-domain operations.”
The Dutch squadron commander added that the upgraded aircraft are better able to integrate with newer systems, both fixed wing and unmanned aircraft systems.
The Dutch have operated the D-model Apaches since 1998. Delivery of remanufactured E-model Apaches represents the next step in this long-term partnership. Apache aircraft continue to play an essential role in European defense and are currently operated by several European allied nations.
“It’s not like buying a new system and just replacing the old ones,” de Waard stated. “We’re handing in the old Deltas, and they are being remanufactured to these Echoes, while the Air Force is still counting on our training mission.”
The AH-64E v6 is the most modern configuration of the Apache attack helicopter. Since 1984, more than 2,600 Apache helicopters have been delivered to the U.S. Army and 17 international customers. Currently, there are more than 1,260 Apaches operating worldwide with more than 665 representing the E-model.