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U.S. Army and Boeing to further upgrade AH-64E Apache attack helicopters

By Defence Industry Europe

The AH-64 Apache helicopter will continue to be the U.S. Army's primary attack helicopter for the foreseeable future, according to the Apache Project Office (Apache PO). Over the years, the Apache has undergone significant upgrades, making it the world's premier attack helicopter used by the U.S. Army and over 16 allied nations worldwide.

The upcoming version, AH-64E Version 6.5, will feature an upgraded software program aimed at enhancing its survivability on the modern battlefield. V6.5 aligns with the Program Executive Office, Aviation common configuration strategy, establishing a common operational flight program software baseline across the Apache E model fleet.

Col. Jay Maher, Apache project manager, expressed excitement about the ongoing development of the V6.5 software, which will pave the way for Apache modernization, including the integration of the ITEP engine. The V6.5 upgrade ensures all E model helicopters operate on the same software, streamlining training, maintenance, and enabling sensor/capability parity.

 

 

In addition to software enhancements, V6.5 introduces various technology upgrades in lethality, survivability, situational awareness, navigation, and communication. It also incorporates an Open Systems Interface (OSI), a step toward a more open systems architecture for rapid integration of new technologies and enhanced capabilities in future updates.

The V6.5 upgrade includes both software and hardware modifications, enabling retrofitting of all V4 series and V6 series Apache E-model aircraft to V6.5. The program has successfully completed Systems Readiness Review and the Preliminary Design Review, with the first flight scheduled for fall 2023. The V6.5 development program is expected to conclude in 2025, with retrofit fielding planned to begin in FY26.

In FY25, the Apache will undergo further updates as it integrates the improved turbine engine (ITE) for developmental testing. The successful completion of testing will support the Advanced Turbine Engine office in operational evaluations for the ITE program.

 

 

The Apache ITE Integration team has collaborated with various stakeholders, including Boeing and General Electric, to ensure successful integration and qualification activities for the improved engine.

The V6.5 upgrade remains on schedule, with the First Flight anticipated in fall 2023. The program is set to conclude in 2025, and retrofit fielding is planned to commence in FY26, the U.S. Army said.

 

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