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Greece Prepares For the Turk Hordes
by James Dunnigan
September 6, 2010

Greece is upgrading twelve of its AH-64A Apache helicopter gunships to the AH-64D Block II standard. Greece currently has 19 AH-64As and 11 AH-64Ds. The Block II gear includes a digital cockpit and an Internet type communications capability with other troops on the ground or in the air with the same type gear.

The AH-64D features the Longbow radar based fire control system. This enables the crew to spot armored vehicles, or stationary targets, in any weather, up to ten kilometers away, and destroy them with Hellfire missiles (max range, eight kilometers). Introduced in the late 1990s, this was a late Cold War development, the perfect weapon to destroying enemy tanks at long range.

The AH-64D got some use during the 2003 Iraq invasion, but since then, the Longbow radar has been more of a liability. The radar system has not been much use for firing Hellfires at targets in residential areas, where you usually want to get a visual, not radar, picture of the target. Moreover, the radar system weighs 500 pounds (about three percent of the weight of a fully loaded AH-64D). In Afghanistan, where the AH-64s fly at high altitudes, where the thin air means less lift, losing three percent of your weight is appreciated. In Iraq, the high heat, and abundant dust, makes the Longbow electronics more prone to breakdown.

But Greece still sees the AH-64D as a valuable anti-armor weapon against its ancient enemy (and current NATO ally), Turkey. The last time Turkey fought a war was in the 1920s. The Greeks lost, and memories fade slowly in this part of the world.


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