The newest version of the AH-64E Apache Attack helicopter has successfully flown with an upgraded capabilities suite as Boeing continues to modernize the platform. The upgraded E-model Apache, known as Version 6.5, or V6.5, is the next configuration of the world’s premier attack helicopter. Building onto V6.5, the company is working with the U.S. Army to integrate the Improved Turbine Engine (ITE). The engine, a General Electric Aerospace T901, will offer improvements in reach, available power, time on station and fuel efficiency, as well as sustainment improvements like health and usage monitoring, maintenance and engine lifespan. V6.5, awarded by the U.S. Department of Defense in December 2021, includes software updates enhancing capabilities and improving the pilot interface. Some of those enhancements include:
- Optimized route and attack planning
- Enhanced Link 16 features
- Integration of an Open Systems Interface, setting the stage for Modular Open Systems Approach for maximum interoperability, faster integration and advanced capabilities fielding.
“We’re very excited about the ongoing development of the V6.5 software as it paves the way for Apache modernization. V6.5 aligns the entire E model fleet under the same software, streamlining training and maintenance while providing a pathway for sensor/capability parity, and enables the Army to address mandates and critical technologies. Ensuring relevance into the future is a top priority,” Col. John (Jay) Maher, U.S. Army Apache project manager, said.
“We saw our hard work come to life with this first flight. These enhancements will take the E-model Apache to the next level in terms of capabilities, ensuring Apaches continue to dominate future battlefields,” said Christina Upah, vice president of Attack Helicopter Programs and senior Boeing Mesa site executive.
The Boeing AH-64 Apache is an American twin-turboshaft attack helicopter with a tailwheel-type landing gear arrangement and a tandem cockpit for a crew of two. It features a nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems. It is armed with a 30 mm (1.18 in) M230 chain gun carried between the main landing gear, under the aircraft’s forward fuselage, and four hardpoints mounted on stub-wing pylons for carrying armament and stores, typically a mixture of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70 rocket pods. While a major change in design or role will cause the type designator suffix to change, for example from AH-64D to AH-64E, the helicopters are also subject to block modification. Block modification is the combining of equipment changes into blocks of modification work orders, the modifications in the block (sometimes called a block package) are all done to the helicopter at the same time.