US Army's new Longbow Apaches arrive in Europe
The US Army is beefing up its attack helicopter capabilities in Europe, with the first upgraded Boeing AH-64D Longbow Apaches arrriving at the Port of Antwerp, destined to join the 11th Aviation Regiment's 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry in Illesheim.
The arrival of the AH-64D marks the latest stage in an ambitious worldwide Army Aviation Transformation plan which is upgrading and replacing aircraft in both the active and reserve components of Army Aviation.
The 6-6th Cavalry will operate fewer of these more capable Apaches, each of its three companies having seven Longbow Apaches instead of eight AH-64As.
One further aircraft will be maintained in theatre as the Operational Ready Float – an in-use reserve. Manpower and maintenance assets will remain unchanged.
The next unit to re-equip with the AH-64D will be the 11th Aviation Regiment's second attack battalion, the 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry, which is also based at Illesheim. This will reduce to seven AH-64A Apaches in each of its three companies by September this year, before returning to the USA in June 2003.
Subseqently the 1st Infantry Division's 1st Company, 1st Attack Battalion at Katterbach will re-equip, reducing from 24 to 18 Apaches. The 1st Armoured Division's 1st Company, 501st Attack Battalion at Hanau-Erlensee will follow the same pattern 2005.
Full integration of the Longbow into the USAREUR inventory will be completed during 2006.
The new Apache variant offers a significant improvement in all-weather and stand-off attack capabilities with its new Longbow target acquisition system, and the improved fire-and-forget Hellfire missile.
The aircraft also has upgraded engines, and a fully integrated cockpit. Introduction of the AH-64D has required a significant investment in new training facilities and ranges. Each Apache battalion will also receive a single highly-portable, deployable Longbow simulator, configured in two trailers.
The next step in the transformation of US Army aviation assets in Europe will include the transfer of all Bell UH-1s back to US-based units or disposal during the next two or three years. The UH-1 will be replaced in the general support role by a smaller number of Sikorsky UH-60s
Source: Flight Daily News