Warplanes: May 20, 2003

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The experience of U.S. Army AH-64 Apache gunships has revived a debate that's been going on since the end of the Cold War. On one side you have the Cold Warriors who see the AH-64s flying into firing positions and then hovering as they get off shots at enemy armored vehicles. On the other side you have a lot of the AH-64 pilots, who see a whole new battlefield (and now have Afghanistan and Iraq experience to back them up.) The pilots want the AH-64s to keep moving on the battlefield and basically be the close support for the ground troops, as well as their overhead observers. This is what the AH-64s were successful at in Iraq and Afghanistan. On the other hand, several dozen AH-64s got shot up when they tried a Cold War era attack on a Republican Guard division. The pilots, being pilots, have a wish list of AH-64 improvements that they are pushing. This includes a more powerful engine, more armor and a better night vision system. The pilots have experience on their side, and some of the army aviation generals are leaning towards seeing things the pilots way.

 


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