Warplanes: British Apache Comes Through

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June 30, 2006: The British army is much relieved that its very expensive ($60 million each) Apache helicopter gunships have finally gotten into combat, and performed well. After a month of operations, the six Apaches in Afghanistan have been in about a dozen fights, fired nearly 2,000 rounds of 30mm cannon rounds, plus several Hellfire missiles and unguided rockets. The Apaches have been reliable and able to do the job, even in the hot, dusty, high altitude conditions found in Afghanistan.

Based on the U.S. AH-64D, eight of the British model were built in the U.S., but the other 59 were built in Britain. The British version has lots of British components, and some special features (like folding rotors, so it can easily be operated from aircraft carriers.) Britain ran into a lot of embarrassing problems getting the Apaches into service. Delays in training enough pilots caused some of the helicopters to be put into storage until the training program could catch up, and there were some teething problems with what was basically a new model of the AH-64.

 


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