Apache Helicopter Celebrates 40 Years

By Belinda BazinetMarch 22, 2024

Last Apache A-model
The final Apache A-model in the U.S. Army, Apache 451, was ‘retired’ on July 15, 2012. It was then taken to the Boeing facility in Mesa, Ariz., and reconfigured into an AH-64D Apache Longbow. From its first combat operations in Panama through the Gulf War to Iraq and operations around the world, the A-model provided security to ground forces, fixed based operations, and aerial escorts; conducted reconnaissance; and decisively engaged enemy combatants to allow freedom of maneuver. Today the much-improved E-model continues that mission and includes an integrated infrared laser that blends infrared and night vision capabilities, a Small Tactical Terminal radio, and a Fire Control Radar that can operate in a maritime mode among other capabilities. (Photo by Sgt. Jeremy Spires, 36th Inf. Div., Public Affairs Office) (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.--With more than five million flight hours under its rotors and 40 years of technological advances behind it, the AH-64 Apache continues to be the best attack helicopter in the world.

The Apache has been the Army’s heavy attack helicopter since the first delivery in January 1984. As the Project Management (PM) Office for Apache and the Army’s Aviation enterprise marks the 40th anniversary of the first delivery, Apache helicopters remain on duty around the globe, protecting America’s interests, and will continue in that role for the foreseeable future. To date, more than 5,000 AH-64 aircraft have been delivered to the U.S. Army and 18 international partners and allies.

PM Apache has steadily upgraded the Apache from its original configuration. Few components of that first design remain, and the upgrades have produced the world’s premier attack helicopter. The PM released the latest version of the Apache in 2020.

“We’re extremely proud of the weapon system and the progression of capability over the years,” Col. Jay Maher, Apache project manager, said. “The Apache of today integrates the latest technologies, and we've been forging a roadmap for technological growth that lets us incorporate new capability aligned with Army priorities.”

The Apache, which replaced the Vietnam era AH-1 Cobra, has been a valuable tool in the Army’s arsenal in both supporting Army ground forces and battle plans, as well as strategic attacks into enemy rear areas to support Army objectives. In Desert Storm, the Apache was used to fly deep into Iraq to destroy enemy radar facilities as the opening salvo to initiate the US and Coalition forces fight to free Kuwait. During Operation Enduring Freedom/ Operation Iraqi Freedom, Apaches were used to provide convoy escorts and support ground forces in contact. The Apache has over 1,340,000 flight hours in combat and peace-keeping operations in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq, and surrounding areas.

The Apache PM continues to innovate and improve the capabilities, sustainment, safety, and maintainability of the Apache for pilots and maintainers.

“Our priority is to provide Warfighters with the necessary capabilities to be successful on tomorrow’s battlefield,” Maher said. “We are proud of the Apache and all those who maintain and employ the world’s premiere attack helicopter.”