The first two of fifty new Apache AH-64E attack helicopters have been delivered to the British Army.

The British Army expects to operate 50 AH-64E aircraft.

Approval for the upgrade of fifty of the UK’s WAH-64 fleet to AH-64E Apache Guardian standard was given by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency in August 2015 however in July 2016, the UK placed an order for 50 AH-64Es through the US Foreign Military Sales programme instead of upgrading their Westland-built WAH-64s.

To date, more than 500 AH-64E model Apaches have been delivered worldwide. According to Boeing, the AH-64E features:

  • Advanced digital connectivity
  • Joint Tactical Information Distribution System
  • More powerful T700-GE-701D engines with upgraded face gear transmission to accommodate more power
  • Capability to control unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)
  • New composite main rotor blade

According to the British Army, the new aircraft arrived at Wattisham Flying Station on the 26th of November.

“These Boeing built new aircraft will enable the UK to maintain its battle-winning Attack Helicopter capability for decades to come thanks to its improved digital capability. The new aircraft is already in service with the US Army and other defence forces and has been designed and equipped to offer common configuration. First UK flying is anticipated to commence in July 2021. 

Initially, this will be focussed on trials activity and then on developing instructional techniques to safely manage aircrew transition from Mark 1 to E-model.  The focus will then change to the full rate conversion training of 3 Regiment Army Air Corps (3AAC). Prior to commencement of flying, the full Air System Safety Case will be rigorously tested to ensure it can support safe flying. This will include Quality Assurance and airworthiness tasks by 7 Bn, plus certification by the UK Military Aviation Authority, assurance of aircraft documentation, simulators, training and instructors.”

Image shows the first two new British Army Apache AH-64E Version 6 Helicopters being off-loaded from a 99 Sqn Boeing C17 Globemaster III at RAF Brize Norton after flying in from Kansas City.

According to a British Army news release:

“New engines, drivetrain, main rotor blades and avionics will deliver a significant boost in aircraft performance.  Embedded system-level diagnostics will increase aircraft availability.  Extended range Fire Control Radar with maritime mode will ensure the aircraft can operate in the maritime environment. Link 16, Mode 5 Identification Friend or Foe and, in time, Manned-Unmanned Teaming bring theatre entry-standard equipment fits and vastly increase crew battle-space awareness.”

Maj Gen Jez Bennett, Director Capability, said:

“The arrival of the first Apache E Model Attack Helicopter to be delivered to the British Army over the next two years marks the beginning of a significant uplift in capability to enhance the Army’s contribution across the spectrum of military operations. From supporting hostage rescue missions, to countering an adversaries’ anti-access, area denial platforms, the Apache E outstrips the outgoing Mark 1 aircraft by increased platform digitalisation, improved weapons and avionics, and the ability to use the latest and future technology to enable teaming with semi-autonomous systems such as UASs.”

Air Commodore Owen Barnes, DE&S Boeing helicopters portfolio manager, said:

“DE&S is delighted to have brought the Apache Capability Sustainment Programme to this significant milestone. It represents the continued dedication and hard work of the team, in close collaboration with our Army customer, to deliver the best capability to our armed forces.”

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Robert Blay
Robert Blay
7 months ago

Fantastic increase in capability for the British Army. Deadly ??

Ron5
Ron5
7 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

67 reduced to 50. Not exactly fantastic.

JohnGalsworthy
7 months ago
Reply to  Ron5

Whilst accurate Ron, the whole tone of this comment isn’t really that conductive to debate. If you want a much more constructive way of saying the above perhaps read what Danielle has written. It’s nice when people show an interest in our armed forces, much better to educate them rather than troll? Apologies if that wasn’t your intent.

Airborne
Airborne
7 months ago
Reply to  Ron5

50 new more capable versions are better than 67 old versions mate, where most were a bit shagged and you never got 67 in use anyway. Let’s see the glass as half full in these costly and crazy times. Cheers.

Ron5
Ron5
7 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

You’re not going to get 50 in use either mate.

Airborne
Airborne
7 months ago
Reply to  Ron5

No as you never get the whole fleet used at one time. There will be 32 in Sqn service, as there is now, some for training the rest utilised to share out the flying hours.

Ron5
Ron5
7 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

As I said, not exactly fantastic. 32 is clearly better than none and worthy of celebration but still remains a tiny number.

whlgrugger
whlgrugger
7 months ago
Reply to  Ron5

i cant understand how the army has managed to break 67 helos in such a small space of time.ony spare bits and pieces left by all accounts

Andy M
Andy M
3 months ago
Reply to  whlgrugger

I guess you know very little about these ac?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
7 months ago

“Conversion training of 3 Reg AAC”

So what about 4 AAC? Converted later or lost?

Are we seeing the merging into a single regiment?

Originally 2 Regiments each of 3 operational sqns, the A2020 cuts reduced the force from 67 ( 48 front line ) to 50 cabs ( 32 front line ) in 2 regiments each of 2 sqns plus a single ops training Sqn.

They called this set up “binary regiments”

So a merger to one regiment of 4 sqns wouldn’t surprise.

Otherwise, excellent news.

George
George
7 months ago

Hi Daniele,
Yes agree I’m concerned about the current regiments of two, I suspect this will be merged as one. Especaly if the MOD have to demonstrate management of the extra funding and reducing the current deficit.

However, this is good news, there may be an opportunity to purchase some extra Apache with the extra funding, let’s hope this may be the plan to create one large regiment capable of deployment on several opperations?
Cheers,
George

Callum
Callum
7 months ago
Reply to  George

The question is, are additional Apaches where we want to be spending the extra funding? Attack helicopters are fantastic assets, yes, but they’re not as relevant to our needs as jets, drones, warships, or cyber.

Airborne
Airborne
7 months ago
Reply to  Callum

Most people who have needed the apaches to give suppressive fire support will beg to differ mate. Yes things will change and cyber and UAVs/networked assets etc are the way forward, but many people forget that on peer to peer conflict, we may have to slug it out, nose to nose, and then take and hold ground. Without the full range of assets, to include heavy armour (hopefully correctly modernised and active protection systems) we will find ourselves unable to do so. Yes its not glamourous, its muddy, wet, hot, sweaty, smelly, dirty and nasty with lots of people killed,… Read more »

Lee1
Lee1
7 months ago
Reply to  Callum

Close air support is crucial and the Apache has proven it’s worth in this regard. There is no other air asset in our inventory that is as useful to troops on the ground in a tricky battle. Fast air is great when there is distance between you and the enemy but when the two sides are close the Apache has the ability to lay down highly accurate fire and get our troops out of danger. The Taliban used to call them the mosquitos and would immediately go into hiding at the slightest sound of an Apache…

Callum
Callum
7 months ago
Reply to  Lee1

At no point did I say the Apache wasn’t important or capable, indeed my exact wording was “fantastic assets”. I’m saying there are far more relevant things to spend a funding increase on. Being crucial to an unlikely scenario isn’t worth increasing the Apache fleet beyond the planned 50.

The most likely future engagements for us are in large maritime theatres, cyberspace, and maybe even low Earth orbit. We should definitely maintain conventional land forces, but they need to take a back seat for now.

Airborne
Airborne
7 months ago
Reply to  Callum

Spot on mate, 50 is an excellent capability and enough to be going on with. As you say, shit is changing and we may need to change the way we operate. But, as at this time, we need the convential shit kickers, and although they may seem old fashioned, they are a capability that we need to ensure are still top of their game with the required updates and concept of ops. Peer on peer is I believe the final and shitty option and the build up game, as you say, cyber, low orbit, light forces, build up and escalation,… Read more »

George
George
7 months ago
Reply to  Callum

Hi Calum,
Sounds convincing, and as you and others on this site have more expertise on defence matters than I, then that’s fine and I see what you mean in the value of other pressing assets needed.
Cheers,
George

Airborne
Airborne
7 months ago
Reply to  Lee1

Although the love of the Apache by some Coy Commanders far outweighed their usefulness. I had 3 x 105mm on call, 24/7, ready to go and the boss used to requst an Apache, and 30 mins later, when the Talibs have fucked off, the Apache chugged up….lol…..

JohnGalsworthy
7 months ago

Great post, cheers Daniele. I wonder what tactical capability conclusions they came to to put 8 in a squadron and to conclude why they originally needed 48 front line units. Not really understanding this makes it hard to fathom the impact of a reduction from 48-32 nor allow one to make the right arguments for an increase again. Jet and ship numbers-rationales I understand, attack helicopters are a bit of an unknown though.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
6 months ago
Reply to  JohnGalsworthy

Hi John. Me neither. I know 3 AAC ( 662 / 663 sqns ) supports 3 ( UK ) Division, while 4 AAC’s two squadrons ( 656 / 664 ) support 16 AA and 3 Cdo Bde. 664 Sqn has an additional commitment to UKSF I believe, including UK CT ops. When one looks at the ORBAT of 3 Division, it has 3 brigades, which were to be changed to 4 with the Strike business, though that is unlikely now. With only 2 squadrons, even if 3 Division was deployed in all out effort and 3 brigades out of 4… Read more »

Airborne
Airborne
7 months ago

Mate it will be a large Regiment, with all airframes pooled for use methinks. Not a major issue, as a reduction of HQ elements and other duplicated departments can be used to free up manpower and reduce costs. Well that will be the plan anyway. But as long as they are logistically supported correctly and deployable, best asset in Europe aside the yanks.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
7 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

Agree mate, looking likely.

If you think it’s OK, then I’ll take that.
Respect.

George
George
7 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

Hi all hope all is well.
Yes go with that, makes sound logic.
Cheers
George

Steve Salt
Steve Salt
7 months ago

Are all the aircraft to be Boeing new builds ?

julian1
julian1
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve Salt

new builds but using specific re-usable components off the 64D

Joe16
Joe16
7 months ago
Reply to  julian1

Shame they’re not going with RR engines this time round, that would have been a nice touch, but then I suppose you have integration qualification costs, and you either need to ship RR engines to the US or engineless AH-64Es to the UK. Neither ideal situations for cost…

Graham Legge
Graham Legge
7 months ago
Reply to  Joe16

The current engines are built in France Joe…. Rolls-Royce sold their 50% stake to Saffron for £248 million a while ago.

julian1
julian1
7 months ago
Reply to  Joe16

these are pretty cheap because they have no UK specifics. They arrive and they work. we should be buying more. My plan would be to transfer AAC Wildcat to FAA to increase rotary wing there and replace with additional Apache

Dern
Dern
7 months ago
Reply to  julian1

Just remember the army also has to transport people and kit.
Something an Apache can’t do, but a Wildcat can.

Benjamin Rule
Benjamin Rule
7 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Not strictly true. Apache can carry Royal Marines if absolutely necessary.

https://sofrep.com/news/leave-no-man-behind-royal-marine-commandos-

Airborne
Airborne
7 months ago
Reply to  Benjamin Rule

I’m sure that’s a tongue in cheek answer as that’s not a routine move. Yes the apache was designed to do so, but I can hardly see it being used to move forward maybe a Jav team, or a HVM team, or the boss and his flaggies…….

Dern
Dern
7 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

Pretty much what Airborne said.

Lee1
Lee1
7 months ago
Reply to  Benjamin Rule

2, on the outside, in pretty horrid conditions… Useful in an emergency but useless for normal operations.

Citizen
Citizen
7 months ago
Reply to  Benjamin Rule

Your link was truncated. Here’s the correct one:
https://sofrep.com/news/leave-no-man-behind-royal-marine-commandos-style/

Daveyb
Daveyb
7 months ago
Reply to  Benjamin Rule

Yep, know one of those guys very well!

Airborne
Airborne
7 months ago
Reply to  Dern

People forget that mate.

BB85
BB85
7 months ago
Reply to  Dern

The army didn’t even want wildcat but where forced to order it to subsidise the navy purchase. They would have been better with the AW149

Lee1
Lee1
7 months ago
Reply to  BB85

I disagree. The 149 is nowhere near as robust as the wildcat. The wildcat is an excellent helicopter with excellent sensors is faster, has a longer ferry range and is able to get into smaller la landing areas. We have other helicopters if we need more troops carrying.

Jonathan
Jonathan
7 months ago
Reply to  Lee1

Agree, they are apples and pears. The 149 is a.classic medium size cab, wildcat is light ( on the heavy side of light but still light). Different jobs, wild cat replaces Lynx, 149 would a good Puma Replace.

Dern
Dern
7 months ago
Reply to  BB85

Rigth but the Army had Lynx at the time, they where not interested in upgrading to the Wildcat. That’s not the same as “They didn’t want a utility Helicopter.”
Now that they’ve had to order Wildcat and invest money into an area they where happy with their current equipment, they’re going to be even less interested in investing even more money to get another utility helicopter when the one they have is just fine.

John Clark
John Clark
7 months ago
Reply to  julian1

Absolutely Julian, Wildcat make far more sense for the RN, the Army Wildcats are in a minimum kit fit and critically can only carry 4 passengers due to the crash worthy seating…. They were forced on the Army at great expense and really don’t have the ‘useful’ capability their considerable cost should have enabled….. So Hand the Wildcats over to the RN for conversion, to increase numbers in an expanding Navy, any excess can be sold to raise funds…. For the Army, an increased AH64E order, fills the scouting roll and procure an off the shelf light utility replacement for… Read more »

Ianbuk
Ianbuk
7 months ago
Reply to  julian1

That’s what I would do. Why sent a wildcat with a side mounted weapon to investigate an object when you can have an Apache or three in the Carriers? The can also extend (I assume they can carry the same anti-ship, plus their stingers) a great deal of lofted very low level firepower several miles from the carriers.

Daniel
Daniel
7 months ago
Reply to  julian1

This may be an unpopular opinion, and the argument for the AAC controlling the attack helicopter capability is a no brainer, but in the hypothetical scenario where wildcat are transferred to the RN, surely the light blue lot would be better suited to providing what is essentially a taxi service? At least from a logistics and budgetary point of view?

Ron
Ron
7 months ago
Reply to  julian1

I sure I saw somewhere about the Apache teaming up with Wildcats one for the sensors and the other as the strike platform. If thats correct it looks like a faily good team.

John Clark
John Clark
7 months ago
Reply to  Joe16

Well Joe, though the Extra power of the RR engines came in very handy in Afghanistan, let’s remember we paid double the unit cost for the privalage of building them in the UK and fitting our engines……

Daveyb
Daveyb
7 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

Yep, our Apaches outperformed other Nation versions. They still used the same blades as everyone else’s, so during the hot times of the year, although the engine could still operate at higher altitudes, the rotor blades were the limiting factor. The new E model blades have a newer blade profile, to work better in a hot and high environment. The T700-GE-701D that the E model has develops slightly less power than the RTM322 that were used in the Westlands D model. The UK MoD decided to buy off the shelf from Boeing as there was a cost benefit that came… Read more »

John Clark
John Clark
7 months ago
Reply to  Daveyb

A rather ‘massive’ cost benefit davey…. I suppose when the original contract was placed, I can certainly see the UK Helicopter base benefits of Westland assembly and RR involvement, as it was at least partially UK owned at the time. These days its wholly Italian owned and the reality is its only the fact the UK now has the largest European Defence budget,that keeps the Yeovil plant open, the Italians aren’t stupid!. The promise of future orders and support for existing equipment makes it well worthwhile. But as the customer, we certainly don’t need to pander to them, its up… Read more »

Daveyb
Daveyb
7 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

Yep, the UK bought the whole package deal. The support and spares are where the real money is made by business in defence. As we were buying the aircraft in conjunction with the US Army the price per frame would have been a lot cheaper. It is exactly the same with the new buy Chinooks. It is a bit of a shame RR didn’t get a look in. The E model has an uprated main rotor gearbox for future engine power enhancement. The latest RTM322 Aneto comes in with 2500shp and an in increase in fuel efficiency over the previous… Read more »

John Clark
John Clark
7 months ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Spot on Davey, I would say lucky re the Airbus MPA. At least with P8, we have menu options, go with gammon and eggs and house red in line with Uncle Sam and use his weapon systems and upgrades, or we can, if we choose, ask to see the wine list and go for lobster i.e pay to have our own weapons integrated at some point. The cost of integration will be steep, but with a rising defence budget, it is at least a possibility in the future. Personally, I would stick to ham and eggs and have tree more… Read more »

Bernard Gray
Bernard Gray
7 months ago
Reply to  Daveyb

The problem is that the production runs are so small. If Western Europe wants a (max) 50 MPA, the non-recurring development cost of creating an A330 MPA cleared to carry weapons, and with the right mission systems would be astronomical per unit. Even the US only has 120 P8. It’s just not practical

RobW
RobW
7 months ago

Is the article correct when it says we ordered 50 new models? I thought it was 38 new and then a follow on order much later on for 12 upgraded units.

James Fennell
James Fennell
7 months ago
Reply to  RobW

Its 50. The confusion was due to way FMS works. The UK gave the US the authority to order 50 from the Boeing through FMS. So the US DoD iniitally ordered 38 for the UK from the current block and then 12 more will come from a future production block. There was a lot of hot air expelled due to a lack of understanding of FMS.

Last edited 7 months ago by James Fennell
Ian
Ian
7 months ago

Is 50 enough and what happens to the older ones…….
Different track
On BBC Devon this week enrolment has gone up considerably……. good news

Ian
Ian
7 months ago
Reply to  Ian

Navy Enrolment…,,, sorry old boy and new tech

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
7 months ago
Reply to  Ian

Regarding enrolment, I suppose that is the silver lining to the cloud that is mass unemployment. Safe, solid work that improves employability and teaches skills means the military offers a tempting offer to young boys and girls when the jobs market is as buggered as it is right now

john melling
john melling
7 months ago

More good news ;P

But I do think just 50 of them is still too low!

Are we going to modify them, like we did previously or stay as they are?

BB85
BB85
7 months ago
Reply to  john melling

There will be no major upgrades, we could integrate brimstone if not done so already, but not sure if the mod will spend the money if

Pacman27
Pacman27
7 months ago

Very good day and a very good capability

The cost of these things for what they do is astonishing and the UK really should have bought a lot more.

I would rather have these over tanks, as we actually use these.

Really great bit of kit and a force multiplier

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
7 months ago
Reply to  Pacman27

Interesting mood music coming out of the MOD highlighting the sharp focus on current platforms. Seems to me to be aimed mostly at other army kit needing to seriously justify its place – Challenger / Warrior?
https://www.forces.net/news/shadow-defence-secretary-extra-ps165bn-welcome-without-strategy

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
7 months ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

Was trying to remove above link and replace but failed.
‘Meant to refer to Forces Net – Armed Forces Minister video’. Recommend try yourselves!

Steve R
Steve R
7 months ago
Reply to  Pacman27

75 would be a good number. 6 squadrons of 8 Apaches plus an OCU/training squadron, and 15 spares.

If we’re going to reduce Chally2 numbers then we need something to make up for it.

If we can’t have the numbers then we need to maximise our firepower!

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
7 months ago

Apache D to E seems to have followed a similar development rational to that of Lynx v Wildcat i.e. rather than persevering for years with an older, updated airframe. Looks the same but a far more advanced combat system. Encouraging decisions made for both models overall.

Captain P Wash
7 months ago

Are these “Upgraded Engines” as or more powerful than the RR ones on our previous Birds, I think the RR engines were a tad more grunty. ?

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
7 months ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

Hi Captain P Wash,

I seem to remember reading sometime ago that the RR engines were more powerful at the time they were procured – and very useful in the hot an high conditions in Afghistan – but the latest US engines are more powerful still. As such the standard US engine met the British Army’s requirements so was clearly the more cost effective.

It was sometime ago when I read the article, so my memory may be – well you know 🙂

Cheers CR

Joe16
Joe16
7 months ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

According to Google, they’re still about 100 shp lower. Works out to about 5%. The Janes article I read says that they’re “most likely” to be replaced, rather than definite, but may as well assume. I’d be all up for a RR replacement, but I guess that would require some kind of expensive qualification. Also, we’d either have to send the RR engines for fitting to the US, or send engineless birds to the UK (potentially a nightmare for QA/QC and formal testing of the aircraft). Not sure whether 5% extra engine power is worth all the extra cost and… Read more »

Lee1
Lee1
7 months ago
Reply to  Joe16

The new rotors etc mean the supplied engines are suitable. The big advantage of the RR engines was that they could operate in hot climates with full weapons, fuel and longbow radar while the US aircraft had to chose whether to use longbow, full fuel or full weapons. I think the new rotors and upgraded engines give full hot weather operation without the RR engines.

Rob
Rob
7 months ago

What happens to the old Westland built Apaches? I wouldn’t mind having as a run about…

julian1
julian1
7 months ago
Reply to  Rob

they’re shagged apparently and the good bits taken off for recycling

Ianbuk
Ianbuk
7 months ago
Reply to  julian1

38 were on the Mod 7 order,( the advanced, over water AH64E Guardian (please don’t say it will be like THE Guardian, favourite newspaper of the liberal minded Civil Servants)) the other 12 were ordered on the Mod 8 order on 19th Dec 2019 and published on this site in March, https://bit.ly/2V7x2kK these have an upgraded over water capability in it’s software that the other 38 will have) as part of a US Army order of 177 machines to take the US up to 800 units. 50 of these are nowhere near enough. We know these things get used, from… Read more »

BB85
BB85
7 months ago
Reply to  Rob

I was wondering, even if they used them for spares and where able to keep 25% of them operational. But I think they are all for stripping.

TrevorH
TrevorH
7 months ago

Good to see the first arriving. And as someone says, this is kit that might be used. But hope the fact that it is there will mean we don’t have to use it.

Nscnick
Nscnick
7 months ago

Why didn’t Westland build or upgrade them? Is this an example of an early transition to purchasing from overseas in preference to our indiginous capability. All part of the post Brexit pandering to US demands for our tax-payers funds?

Johnny
Johnny
7 months ago
Reply to  Nscnick

Nscnick, I believe it was a case if boeing ceasing to support the D model and it being massively cheaper to tag onto the us army order whilst also utilising usable parts from the existing fleet to further reduce costs.

Nscnick
Nscnick
7 months ago
Reply to  Johnny

I hope so!

Ianbuk
Ianbuk
7 months ago
Reply to  Johnny

The AH64D if AH1 were £35 million each, the AH64E Guardian are costing £11,4m each. The MOD have been offered Mod 8 production versions for the same price. The Challenger II life upgrade package is £4.6m per Tank and extends their life cycle to no more than 2033 AND even with the LEP, it will still be classed as the poorest Tank in service with all the main powers!

Would it be better to order a further 75 AH64e Mod 8’s now that wont even run off the production line until 2027?

Captain P Wash
7 months ago
Reply to  Nscnick

Westland’s, or Leonardo were twice the price.

Mike Saul
Mike Saul
7 months ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

You could but 4 AH64A or one WAH64, based on the data used from the Israeli contract to procure AH64A.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike Saul

That is a vast difference. Did they say what was the cause of the discrepancy? I would assume it comes down to economies of scale with the size of the American army

Mike Saul
Mike Saul
7 months ago

Cost of designing and testing a new variant that is radically different from the original is expensive in the modern age, given both hardware and software costs.

That total cost is then shared amongst the the number of aircraft built. The WAH64 production run was small, therefore the cost per aircraft was high.

John Clark
John Clark
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike Saul

When the WAh64D was ordered, I remember a rather tongue in cheek (but true) statment that it would have been cheaper to close the Westland plant, pay every employee, including the cleaning staff one Million pounds redundancy each and order from the US.

Yes, it would still have been a massively cheaper option!!!

KPB
KPB
7 months ago

Fantastic bit of kit. Hard-hitting and multi-role, not to mention a great leveller of playing fields against more armour-heavy opponents. For all the naysaying, we are slowly but surely assembling some pretty darn formidable cutting edge platforms – Astute, CSG, F35 etc. I firmly believe we need to forget the preoccupation with competing on land via quantity, and focus on capability like this that is designed to really make our opponents’ eyes water. Especially given some of the footage coming out of modern conflicts not too far away where light armour and static PBI are looking increasingly vulnerable. As another… Read more »

Bob
Bob
7 months ago
Reply to  KPB

Land power in the end does come down to mass and the ability to concentrate combat power to achieve overmatch. People aren’t concerned about mass in an attritional sense, it’s actually because of the limits of human endurance (about 72 hours of high intensity combat). So basically, if you want to fight at the Divisional level, you need three deployable divisions. Force multipliers like this only go some way to redressing any balance. AH after all cannot seize and hold terrain. Armour and Infantry can. It’s a false lesson to think that because of advances in sensor fusion and targeting… Read more »

KPB
KPB
7 months ago
Reply to  Bob

Hi – thanks for the feedback. The odd thing is, I hope you’re right and I suspect we might be in furious agreement. In fact, I agree on the whole and wouldn’t countenance a total transfer to this sort of tech from more traditional assets. Fighting over land we can’t hold makes little sense. The question is, how do we create the right conditions for infantry and armour to operate effectively and with acceptable risk? SHORAD, sensor tech and the ability to dominate the airspace at all altitudes, 24/7 must now be the imperative for land warfare against anyone not… Read more »

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
7 months ago
Reply to  KPB

Hi KPB,

Not sure if you are aware but the British Army is getting the Land Ceptor system to replace Rapier. It looks like a really good piece of kit. Of course, they ain’t getting enough of it – as usual.

https://des.mod.uk/british-army-land-ceptor-firings/

It is based on the RN’s Sea Ceptor, but uses a different radar – SAAB’s Giraffe radar.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAMM_(missile_family)

Cheers CR

Peter S.
Peter S.
7 months ago
Reply to  KPB

Has anything really changed since ww2? Once Germany lost control of the air, it was in almost constant retreat. Tank columns in open terrain were broken up by air attack so their tanks tried to operate from concealment. But you were still less likely to die in a Tiger than as infantry. The same is true today. The Israelis with continuous experience have uparmoured their Merkavas and now use older models as APCS. Just as infantry learned to fight more dispersed in the face of machine guns, I guess armour will have to do similarly in the face of PGMs… Read more »

JohnGalsworthy
7 months ago
Reply to  KPB

Great post kpb. I think the angle I would take this from would be being clear on what capabilities we need and what we need to do them. I think if this is really well understood wrt the army, the right infantry numbers will be achieved and it will be clear what can be done with them. I believe 2010 planning was providing a force of sufficient size for take and hold counter insurgency missions in places sech as Afghanistan. The issue now is that there is a fast moving return to great power competition which means a serious rethink… Read more »

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
7 months ago
Reply to  KPB

I fear you are right and only actual warfare will prove who or what was right. Seeing Turkish tech being so effective against a former Super power’s acolytes and weaponry with little effective short term technological or tactical answer is scary and makes it all very unpredictable. When we can’t really afford to update or replace much of our traditional weaponry, it doesn’t bode well for being able to provide provision of speculative tech that is designed to operate in equally speculative scenarios. Tanks I think are the most immediate of these questions to answer but plenty more to follow… Read more »

Ianbuk
Ianbuk
7 months ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

I understand and make the same argument. What would happen to a government is in a conflict we had another Somme? Surrender? No one in power is grasping that the main threat being China, they believe life is cheap. So do the North Koreans. I don’t know where Russia stands, but they have gone down the tech route. Irrespective of what is the right thing to do, 200 or less Tanks do not cut it, not 19 ships, around 32,000 fighting men, not 50 attack helicopters, sorry, it’s not 50 is it, it’s far less as the Navy will take… Read more »

Daveyb
Daveyb
7 months ago
Reply to  KPB

Yes, the loitering suicide drone may be a new concept. But the method to deal with it is not, i.e. kinetic or passive. What’s more surprising is that both the Russian backed forces of Syria and Armenia get/got such a drubbing. Especially as Russia has first hand knowledge of not only using these types of drones offensively but also being on the receiving end. The Ukrainian/Russian separatist conflict was really the first major war where drones have been used both strategically and tactically in numbers, with both sides rapidly developing not only the design but also broadening how they were… Read more »

KPB
KPB
7 months ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Excellent post, thank you. I learned a lot from some of that detail.

Clearly the challenge is making sure the anti-drone tech evolves as quickly as the drone tech.

Perhaps the next challenge is how to counter autonomous, possibly unarmed, networked and sensor-ed recce drone swarms without giving away your location or sacrificing all of your limited anti-drone weaponry.

i.e. the next iteration of this:

https://www.theverge.com/2019/8/9/20799148/darpa-drones-robots-swarm-military-test

In effect, it’s the loyal wingman theory applied to ground warfare in a cheaper, more disposable way.

Certainly food for thought.

Nscnick
Nscnick
7 months ago
Reply to  Bob

Unfortunateky the way the government are thinking people costs lots of money and comes with human resource baggage. Equipment equals supply and hence equals profits for someone. No substitute for people to do the actual work.

Crabfat
Crabfat
7 months ago
Reply to  KPB

RAFA statement July 2017: “The Royal Air Forces (RAF) Association today announces the appointment of Air Marshal Sir Baz North as its new President, replacing Air Marshal Sir Dusty Miller”

Mike Saul
Mike Saul
7 months ago

Anyone who thinks a UK bespoke version of AH64E with RR engines would be better option than the box standard US version simply has zero grasp of defence are economics.

captain p wash
captain p wash
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike Saul

Cool, Well that explains my ignorance then.

captain p wash
captain p wash
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike Saul

It worked the last time though, ?

Mike Saul
Mike Saul
7 months ago
Reply to  captain p wash

What do you mean it worked last time?

It’s a question of cost, using the Israeli contract as a datum point you could buy 4 US standard AH64A for the cost of of 1 WAH64.

john melling
john melling
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike Saul

The upgrades we chose to do, compared to what the yanks had at the time enhanced our Apaches. Better Engine, Blades etc

So I think it would be good to do the same !

The cost is outweighed by offering the better efficiency and capability over allies and the enemy

And yes it worked last time ;P

Mike Saul
Mike Saul
7 months ago
Reply to  john melling

That’s your opinion. Unfortunately I disagree, the UK has a history of buying very good weapon systems and trying to adapt them at great cost for minimal or even in some cases to negative effect.

For example the F4K/M Phantom, the slowest most expensive Phantom ever built. For every F4M purchased by the RAF it could have received 2 F4E, a far better aircraft.

Another more recent example, is Watchkeeper.

Captain P Wash
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike Saul

Hello Mike, actually you are very wrong mate ….. the only place where the British Phantom was inferior, and not by much, was at high altitude. In all other areas of performance the Spey’s were superior. It was well documented when the UK bought some USAF spec Frames. although you are probably correct about Price.

John Clark
John Clark
7 months ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

Capain, I though the M model F4 had significantly shorter range to, due the increased drag? McDonald Douglas did suggest a bespoke F4 design for the RAF in the mid 1970’s, it was a stretched, Spey derivative with a cranked delta wing and would have been a far better aircraft than the Tornado F3. A re design fully using the advantages of the Spay. The offer was based on a 200 aircraft order, with our F4M’s taken in part exchange. It would have given the RAF and excellent (streets ahead of everything out there well into the late 1980’s) multi… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by John Clark
Captain P Wash
7 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

I think you’ll find the British F4’s were faster and had a longer range. I’ll go and check it on Google, back in a bit.

Captain P Wash
7 months ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

Wiki has a section and it says that they were 30% quicker off the ground, faster to Altitude, Faster top speed and had a better Range, I was a bit surprised at the last bit but that’s what it says. They were redesigned to fit the Speys and they did create more Drag.

Daveyb
Daveyb
7 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

The Tornado F3 had a stonking radar, after they sorted out all the bugs.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
6 months ago
Reply to  Daveyb

And removed the concrete!

Ianbuk
Ianbuk
7 months ago
Reply to  captain p wash

£35m a pop for home built AH64D, compare that the the vastly superior AH64E Guardian, we paid £11.4m each. There’s an offer to tag on the end if another large US Army order at the same price, we should make the numbers to 110 so we have 100 fighting units.

John Hampson
John Hampson
7 months ago

I am a great believer in supporting UK plc and our manufacturing base, even if it results in a slight loss of capability, but this has to be a example of sensible defence spending.

Ron5
Ron5
7 months ago
Reply to  John Hampson

You will therefore be pleased to learn that the Treasury has just changed its rules to place UK manufacture at a higher priority than pure value for money.

https://twitter.com/FTusa284/status/1332282846447341569

John Hampson
John Hampson
7 months ago
Reply to  Ron5

Good.

John Clark
John Clark
7 months ago
Reply to  John Hampson

Within reason John and Ron, wisely spending money and buying the equipment actually asked for by the services should be the core of defence of the realm, absolutely first and foremost, before job creation schemes….

Anything else is the responsibility Department of Trade and Industry.

If we went solely for UK, or pan European options we would blow the budget and have under equipped forces…

We simply can’t afford it…

AlexS
AlexS
7 months ago

I am afraid attack helicopters are going to be obsolete soon and have no place in age of the drone.

Airborne
Airborne
7 months ago
Reply to  AlexS

Sorry Alex wrong at every level mate…..

Steve R
Steve R
7 months ago
Reply to  AlexS

Really?!

A single Apache can take out far more enemy tanks, vehicles etc than a Reaper or Protector. It carries far more weapons than any drone can and, being a helicopter, can fly much slower and hover above a target-rich environment to give sustained air support, whereas any current drone would need to circle and, as I said, lacks even half the munitions of an Apache.

Attack helicopters or gunships aren’t going anywhere. They themselves may become unmanned in future but the attack helicopter platform is here to stay for the foreseeable.

Airborne
Airborne
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

Correct, in fact in the future an attack heli can control and operate a number of “drones” and having the human in the link is so much better and safer than total autonomous. And as someone who has controlled “drones” on combat ops, either directly or indirectly by comms or data link, I can confirm that as at this time they are more laborious and slow than any human controlled asset. Cheers and stay safe.

john melling
john melling
7 months ago
Reply to  AlexS

OMG you did not just say that !!

That’s a very early Aprils fools joke right?

Helicopters in all shapes and sizes are the Air Cavalry whether as an attack helicopter or putting boots on the ground in an LZ

They wont be going to the scrapyard anytime soon…

Captain P Wash
7 months ago
Reply to  AlexS

Yes but We’re talking about the Real ones not the Tamiya versions !

john melling
john melling
7 months ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

At £250 those are the only things he can afford to play with 😉

Captain P Wash
7 months ago
Reply to  john melling

lol.

AlexS
AlexS
7 months ago
Reply to  AlexS

Well, helicopters are vulnerable to every kind of weapons starting with manpads to the beating that a flight of Apaches took from machine gun Iraquis. And not as stealthy like drones and are much more expensive than drones.
Both sides had attack helicopters in Nagorno-Karabah but what dominated were drones and loitering ammunition. I was expecting they could have been employed in some sort of anti drone missions but it seems they were not.

Airborne
Airborne
7 months ago
Reply to  AlexS

Everything and everyone is vulnerable in war mate. The Apache digs in, gets low and slugs it out with the enemy, of course some will take hits, nature of the beast and nature of that type of warfare. I’ve called in Apaches, and I’ve utilised drones both for recce, overwatch and very limited attack. Trust me manned airframes are more useable, flexible and easily re-tasked and so much more adaptable with a crew. Warfare is changeable, sometimes by the second, and while drones and UAVs have their place, and may take precedence in a certain battle/action/deployment, it doesn’t mean they… Read more »

Daveyb
Daveyb
7 months ago
Reply to  AlexS

Not quite true. If we take the aforementioned Apache it has the radar cross section equivalent to caravan. This is due to, too many right angles, cavities, an unshielded gun and ammo belt, fixed undercarriage, spinning main rotor and tail blades with metal leading edges and a tubular tail. On the face of it, you would think that an Apache stands no chance against a modern SAM system. But then an Apache in an hostile environment will not be flying above 1000ft, if anything it will be down below 50ft using map of the earth and hedge hopping flying to… Read more »

AlexS
AlexS
6 months ago
Reply to  Daveyb

“So it has a fair to middling chance against manpads and SAM systems using infrared homing missiles.”

Infrared only is also in way out , it is multi spectral now. Even Stinger already in late 80’s had UV.

Steve
Steve
7 months ago

What we need to invest in next is the guided rockets that BAe make, to make the rockets usable in zones that collateral damage is a potential, which includes most realistic scenarios these days. Without it the Apache has available significantly less ordernance.

I wonder also what the extra power will be used for.

Airborne
Airborne
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve

Extra power is for hot and high mate, full weapon load and a decent endurance. As for guided rockets i believe brimstone will be utilised eventualy. Cheers mate.

Steve
Steve
7 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

I believe brimstone would be a replacement for the hellfire and not the rocket pods.

Airborne
Airborne
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve

Apologise mate that’s what I meant, before replacement not the unguided pods.

Airborne
Airborne
7 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

Oops again, should say hellfire not before…lol

Captain P Wash
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve

There is no Extra power though, The RR engines were still more powerful than the new GE ones.

andrew
andrew
7 months ago

The T700 is actually LESS powerful than the RTM322s that the WAH had.

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
7 months ago

For those who believe we should have more than 50 Apaches, I’d suggest contemplating what UK battlefield vertical lift forces will look like in future, because it may look a lot more capable based on some of the platforms being considered. It will take time to build towards this, but there is no need to madly arm up in the meantime, we aren’t in a hot … or even a cold war at this point. The UK has signed an agreement with the US expressing interest in the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program, which currently comprises Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
7 months ago

Here’s a link to US FARA RFI

Ianbuk
Ianbuk
7 months ago

What we really need to a few Ospreys. Kit four out in an E-2 Hawkeye as much as possible, it’s got twice the surface ceiling than the current option and endurance and distance. Free’s a few helo’s up. Two Ospreys could be used as air 2 air refuelers for the embarrassingly short legged F35B. That’s helped the carriers no end in both detecting incoming aircraft, vampires or drones. The helo’s allow more troop transport (yes I know the Osprey’s can carry three times the troops, but they would be tasked elsewhere due to the type of Carriers we have not… Read more »

Ianbuk
Ianbuk
7 months ago

What about the old versions? Will they go into overhaul and brought up to E spec? If so it would give a bloody great deal of close support, even when you consider, a navel variant off the carriers providing any force deployed with overwhelming close air support is a “must try”, they were used enough on HMS Ocean (God rest her much needed soul).

Good maintenance and overhaul has Chinnoks still in the air, why retire, sell or scrap the current fleet?

Ron
Ron
7 months ago

So are these NEW helicopters or upgraded Longbows. If they are new what is going to happen to the 50+ Longbows are we going to keep them for say the Royal Marines. I’m not sure but I think the E does not have folding main rotor. Again if the Es are new and not an upgrade possibly we could upgrade half of the Longbow fleet to the E standard, (this was the original idea) and attach the upgraded version to the FAA for RN/RM support. The thought of having a Wildcat /Apache Longbow combination operating of frigates or Merlin/ Apache… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
7 months ago
Reply to  Ron

As it says in the article, they are new. They were to be upgraded but MoD changed its mind, taking advantage of the huge US order. I’d guess the older Apache would be scrapped for spares. As for giving the older Longbow Apache to the RM, that is fantasy. Apart from the rest of CHF, the RM have but one squadron, 847 NAS, with a handful of Wildcat that are Army machines and part of 1AAC. And there are only 34 to go round, shared with the other 3 squadrons of the regiment. So giving 50 Apache to the RM… Read more »

Ron
Ron
7 months ago

Sorry for the delay in response, I had some issues with this site over the weekend. Anyway, thanks for cleariing that up. My confusion was that in some other articles I read it was an update, Then I remembered that the Longbow was to be upgraded, I think it was the 2015 SDR, so I did not know if this was a complete new airframe or the updated airframe. Now to the second point it seems that either I did not explain myself clearly or you misunderstood what I wrote. Either way its my fault. I did not expect all… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
6 months ago
Reply to  Ron

So have I. Was running very slow. All ok now.

Harold Paine
Harold Paine
7 months ago

We should be buying British

john melling
john melling
7 months ago

Just realised the apaches we are getting are the the Version 6 configuration meaning its the most advanced variant of the “E”
Including “Maritime mode” on the Radar which fits in with the lean toward Littoral Strike

Glad to see more good news and upgraded capability returning

Doom-mongers stay away….

Peter Crisp
Peter Crisp
7 months ago

Apache’s regularly fly over my house so I should hopefully see some of these soon. Bedfordshire must be a bad guy hotspot it seems.

Captain P Wash
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter Crisp

It’s worse in Somerset !

Paul Walker
Paul Walker
7 months ago

50 replacing 64. So that’s a 20% reduction in capacity. Given the cost savings of the new E model over the mk1, that’s a lot of money saved by our glorious accountants. Another battle won. It’s a shame our leaders have no idea the damage they are doing to our national defence, and thus our standing on the world stage.

RobW
RobW
6 months ago
Reply to  Paul Walker

We may have had 64 but many of them are in a poor material state having been overworked in harsh environments. We certainly don’t have any where near that number able to be deployed. Plus the AH64E is a significant upgrade on the D model. All things considered I don’t think it is a reduction in capability. Lets see what the integrated review says as we may get more to support the strike brigades, that is one rumour anyway.

Paul Walker
Paul Walker
6 months ago
Reply to  RobW

I don’t disagree with the increased capability; although this is often negated by a corresponding increase by the ‘other side’. But a 20% decrease in capacity affects the armies ability to distribute its influence. Also, given my own personal experience new systems have bugs, gremlins and supply chain issues that limit both capability and capacity. So availability can be as poor as ageing systems, sometimes worse. Tornado GR4 springs to mind, in that it could only carry dumb bombs on entry to service. It was a fair while before it caught up with the previous GR1. So I still see… Read more »