US Army 12th Combat Aviation Brigade in Europe receives new AH-64E V6 Apache Guardian attack helicopters

On September 1, 2023, the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade of the U.S. Army stationed at Wiesbaden Army Airfield, Clay Kaserne, Germany, proudly welcomed two cutting-edge Apache helicopters, AH-64Es, heralding a new era in their aviation capabilities. David Overson, U.S Army, reports.

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US Army 12th Combat Aviation Brigade in Europe receives new AH 64E V6 Apache Guardian attack helicopters   Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment (Attack Battalion), 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, prepare to load an AH-64D Longbow onto a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III (Picture source: Thomas Mort)

These latest additions, officially designated as AH-64E Version 6 Apache Guardians, mark the beginning of an exciting procurement plan that anticipates the acquisition of 24 such helicopters for the brigade. They arrived in style aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft, smoothly transitioning from their airborne voyage to the waiting tarmac. Notably, two of the unit's existing AH-64 Delta models were entrusted with a different mission, taking their place aboard the transport.

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Brigit Duffy, a maintenance platoon leader within the 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment (Attack Battalion), 12th CAB, shared her enthusiasm, emphasizing the transformative potential of these new aircraft. She stated "This new aircraft gives us so many more capabilities. There are upgrades on so many different aspects of the aircraft, which will better aid our abilities to support our Allies here in the European Theater."

The AH-64E V6, at its core, represents a substantial leap forward in aviation technology, boasting numerous enhancements in sensors, software, and weapons systems. It is meticulously engineered for seamless integration within the intricate multi-domain operational ecosystem. The AH-64E V6 epitomizes a combination of lethality, survivability, and agility, effectively extending the reach, maneuverability, and overall performance of ground forces.

The aircraft's advanced capabilities are a testament to its fully integrated design, optimizing its effectiveness in battle. This optimization stems from a combination of onboard and off-board sensors, stand-off long-range weaponry, and the crucial connectivity required to harness the full spectrum of tools available within the ecosystem. Boeing's AH-64E V6 stands out as a battle-ready attack helicopter in a class of its own.

Capable of neutralizing armored targets, personnel, and materiel even in obscured battlefield conditions, the AH-64E V6 is equipped with air-to-ground Hellfire missiles, which can be guided either by semi-active laser or radar systems. Additionally, it wields 2.75-inch Hydra rockets, offering laser-guided point detonation capabilities, and an M230 30 mm chain machine gun with an impressive rate of fire at 625 rounds per minute, covering a range of 4.2 kilometers.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Michael Weisskopf, the brigade standardization officer with the 12th CAB, further highlighted the aircraft's versatility by stating: "This aircraft will allow the use of the AGM-179 Joint Air-to-Ground Missile and future integration of the Spike NLOS, a multi-purpose, electro-optical/infrared missile system. It also has a full instrument suite allowing instrument flying rules, enabling us to deploy in adverse weather conditions."

In preparation for the arrival of these AH-64E V6s, select pilots underwent initial training at the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence, located at Fort Novosel, Alabama. Maintenance personnel, meanwhile, are scheduled to commence their training in Germany starting from October, with an estimated completion date in January 2024. USAACE will dispatch their New Equipment Training Team to provide comprehensive training for both pilots and maintainers over the course of the next seven months.

As the U.S. Army marches forward in building the Army of 2030 and investing in next-generation technologies, the Apache helicopter stands as a cost-effective embodiment of Modular Open Systems Architecture, poised to play a pivotal role in the dynamic multi-domain operations battlefield for many decades to come.