April 30, 2014:
The U.S. has allowed ten AH-64D helicopter gunships to be delivered to Egypt. The United States has held up such deliveries of military equipment because the Egyptian Army replaced the elected president of Egypt last July. The former president was sympathetic to Islamic radicals and after the coup the Islamic terrorists in Egypt went on a rampage. The 35 AH-64Ds Egypt already has proved very useful in dealing with the Islamic terrorists. So the U.S. is, out of mutual interest, letting the ten AH-64Ds Egypt had on order be delivered. Egypt had already upgraded its AH-64s to the “D” standard.
The 10 ton AH-64E carries a pilot and a weapons officer, as well as about a ton of weapons. The initial model, the AH-64A entered service in 1986. The last AH-64A was taken out of service in 2012, for upgrade to the AH-64D standard. The AH-64B was an upgrade proposed for the early 1990s, but was cancelled, as was a similar “C” model upgrade. Some of these cancelled improvements were in great demand but were delayed because of budget cuts after the Cold War ended in 1991. Thus the “B” and “C” model upgrades were incorporated in the AH-64D Block I (1997). The AH-64D Longbow (because of the radar mast, making it possible to see ground targets and flying obstacles in all weather) models began appearing in 2002. By 2006, over 500 American AH-64As had been upgraded to AH-64Ds.
The U.S. Army has over 700 Apache (AH-64) helicopter gunships in service, out of about 1,200 built. This helicopter basically provides close air support and so far all those built have spent more than three million hours in the air. Unlike jet fighters, the Apache is slow (max speed of 360 kilometers an hour). The usual speed in combat is much slower, from the cruising speed of about 280 kilometers an hour to a dead stop while still in the air. The average sortie for an AH-64 lasts about 90 minutes, when just using internal fuel (that can be tripled with the maximum of four external tanks). Typically, AH-64s in combat will fly up to half a dozen sorties a day, often taking on additional ammo when they land to refuel.
The Apache is a Cold War era weapon, designed in the 1970s for seeking out and killing armored vehicles on the battlefield. It has been good at that and carries up to 16 Hellfire missiles and a 30mm automatic (ten rounds a second) cannon with 1200 rounds of armor piercing ammo. Over the last decade the AH-64 has evolved into a powerful weapon against irregular forces (in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, Lebanon and now Egypt).