Aerial Warfare

Royal Netherlands Air Force Aviators Receive New AH-64E Apache Flight Simulator

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Royal Netherlands Air Force Aviators Receive New AH-64E Apache Flight Simulator

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Royal Netherlands Air Force Aviators Receive New AH-64E Apache Flight Simulator
Royal Netherlands Air Force Aviators Receive New AH-64E Apache Flight Simulator

The first Apache Echo simulator was inaugurated this month at Gilze-Rijen Royal Netherlands Air Force Base. This milestone marks the commencement of retraining for Apache pilots, a crucial aspect driven by the ongoing modernization program upgrading all Apache Delta helicopters to the advanced Echo version. Manufactured by Boeing, the designated contractor overseeing the upgrade of all 28 Apache attack helicopters in the United States, the new simulator offers a range of advantages for helicopter crews. The training facility ensures daily training for crews, including Apache pilots, both domestically and internationally. Flying hours are essential for mission readiness, and the simulator proves invaluable in meeting these requirements.

The simulator’s advantages include its quiet operation, minimal fuel consumption, and independence from weather conditions, allowing training sessions to occur uninterrupted. Moreover, the simulator’s low maintenance needs compared to a real helicopter make it a cost-effective and efficient training tool. The ability to simulate complex missions, involving weapon deployment and coordination with other aircraft, including unmanned ones, further underscores the significance of this cutting-edge training facility. Despite these advancements, the necessity for actual flight experiences remains. Vibrations, sounds, and visual cues in a simulator may differ significantly from real-world conditions. The simulator is currently unable to faithfully replicate low flying and flying in the dark, crucial elements of operational training.

The simulator is housed at the Multi-Ship Multi-Type simulator center at Gilze-Rijen Air Base.
The simulator is housed at the Multi-Ship Multi-Type simulator center at Gilze-Rijen Air Base. (Photo by Dutch Ministry of Defence)

In a related development, the United States delivered two AH-64E Version 6 Apache Guardian attack helicopters to the RNAF on December 7. These helicopters, remanufactured from the Netherlands’ existing AH-64D fleet, showcase the commitment to upgrading and modernizing the RNAF’s Apache capabilities. Transported by a US Air Force C-17 to Woensdrecht Air Base Logistics Center-Woensdrecht (LCW), the aircraft will undergo initial inspection and inventory before assembly and testing at Woensdrecht. Final delivery of the upgraded aircraft is anticipated in 2025. The remanufactured AH-64Es, while utilizing parts from the original AH-64D, undergo a comprehensive reset, making them considered new aircraft.

With upgraded components such as more powerful engines, an improved gearbox, and new composite rotor blades, these helicopters boast cutting-edge technology. The incorporation of the latest communications, navigation, sensors, data correlation, and a pilot cognitive decision aiding system positions them as formidable assets, significantly enhancing combat effectiveness. Having been an integral part of the Dutch military since 1998, the Apache helicopter, operated by several European allied nations, continues to play a crucial role in European defense. The introduction of the Echo simulator and the ongoing modernization efforts underscore the commitment to maintaining and advancing the capabilities of this vital aerial platform.

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