Published 27 October 2023

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It’s been described as “the most advanced attack helicopter in the world” and now the new AH-64E Apache has been declared ready for British Army duty.

DE&S is procuring 50 AH-64Es through a Foreign Military Sale with the US Government.

The Boeing-manufactured Apache is a twin-engine, tandem-seat helicopter designed to accomplish a variety of operations at day or night, in a range of climactic conditions.

Primarily designed to find and destroy air defence units, tanks and armoured vehicles, it is armed with a 30mm automatic cannon, wing-mounted 70mm Hydra rockets and Hellfire missiles.

The AH-64E flies faster, has a greater capability and range than the Mk1, which has been in service with the British Army since 2001 and proved itself in conflicts in Libya and Afghanistan.

It also has improved sights and sensors, allowing targets to be accurately identified and engaged at greater ranges.

Recently, 3 Regiment Army Air Corps was put through its paces on Exercise IRON TITAN, testing every aspect of the unit from its logistics and command & control procedures to the maintenance and operation of the state-of-the-art AH-64E in the field.

The exercise saw 3 Regiment Army Air Corps validated in its core role, providing an aviation deep attack battlegroup, made up of AH-64Es and the Wildcat reconnaissance helicopters of 1 Regiment Army Air Corps, to 3rd (UK) Division, the British Army’s warfighting division.

In this role, the AH-64E is a key element of how the Army will fight in the coming decades as set out in the Future Soldier transformation programme.

Across six weeks, 3 Regiment has deployed from its base at Wattisham Flying Station in Suffolk to set up temporary facilities at Nesscliffe in Shropshire, and then moved down to Eaglescott and Chivenor in Devon.

Strike missions by the AH-64Es were planned and executed on simulated enemy positions as far apart as Otterburn in Northumberland and Lydd in Kent.

Keith Bethell, Director Helicopters at DE&S, said:

“With the world becoming a more dangerous place, and with adversaries becoming ever more sophisticated with their own weaponry, the imperative for the UK Armed Forces to have ‘best in class’ equipment has never been greater.

“The AH-64E Apache, widely regarded as the most sophisticated attack helicopter on the planet, will undoubtedly deliver the edge to our Army wherever they are in the world today and tomorrow.”

He added:

“I am very proud of the role DE&S has played in working together side by side with our allies and industry to get this incredible warfighting machine to the Army.”

3 Regiment’s Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Rich Simcock said:

“The AH-64E is the most advanced attack helicopter in the world and the step change it brings in lethality, agility, survivability and how it can communicate and integrate with other capabilities is nothing short of revolutionary.

“Like any machine, the Apache is only as good as the people who operate it. To have got to where we are just two years after the first aircraft arrived in the UK reflects the hard work and dedication put in by everyone in the regiment.

“Aircrew and engineers have been on training courses, we’ve developed new procedures to reflect the AH-64E’s enhanced capabilities, and we are constantly adapting as we learn more about what the aircraft can do.”

Apache AH-64E Fact File

  • Two GE T700-GE-701D Turboshaft engines
  • Equipped with 16 Hellfire missiles
  • 70 Hydra-70 rockets
  • 1,200 30mm cannon rounds
  • Full Operating Capability for all 50 on track for 2026