AH-64D Longbow Apache - FY97 Activity (2024)

AH-64D Longbow Apache - FY97 Activity (1)

Director, Operational Test & Evaluation

FY97 Annual Report

FY97 Annual Report

AH-64D Longbow Apache - FY97 Activity (2)

Army ACAT ID Program
758 systems
Total program cost (TY$)$6.7B
Average unit cost (TY$)$8.1M
Full-rate production1QFY96

Prime Contractor


The AH-64D Longbow Apache is a remanufactured and upgraded version of the AH-64A Apache attack helicopter. The primary modifications to the Apache are the addition of a millimeter-wave Fire Control Radar (FCR) target acquisition system, the fire-and-forget Longbow Hellfire air-to-ground missile, updated T700-GE-701C engines, and a fully-integrated co*ckpit. In addition, the aircraft receives improved survivability, communications, and navigation capabilities. Most existing capabilities of the AH-64A Apache are retained.

The AH-64D is being fielded in two configurations. The full-up AH-64D includes all of the improvements listed above. In addition, a version of the AH-64D without the FCR will be fielded. This version will not receive the new Radar Frequency Interferometer (RFI) or the improved engines, but will retain the other Longbow modifications. The AH-64D without FCR is capable of launching the Longbow Hellfire missile.

All AH-64A Apaches in the fleet are to be upgraded to the AH-64D configuration: 227 will be equipped with the FCR, and the remaining 531 will not. Each attack helicopter company will receive three aircraft with FCRs and five without.

The mission of the attack helicopter is to conduct rear, close, and deep operations; deep precision strike; and provide armed reconnaissance and security when required in day, night, and adverse weather conditions. The AH-64D is a dominant maneuver platform that leverages information superiority and tactical precision engagement to provide full-dimensional protection for the ground maneuver force.


The combined Longbow Apache and Longbow Hellfire IOT was conducted in four phases: gunnery, force-on-force, air transportability, and aircraft conversion. The gunnery phase of IOT was conducted during January and February 1995 at the Naval Weapons Center, China Lake, CA. Testing conducted at Fort Hunter Liggett, CA during March 1995 compared the Longbow Apache firing the Longbow and Semi-Active Laser (SAL) missiles with the baseline AH-64A. The objectives of this phase were to assess the operational effectiveness of an attack helicopter company equipped with the Longbow weapon system relative to one equipped with the current AH-64A, and the operational suitability of the aircraft. Both the test and baseline attack helicopter companies conducted missions against a battalion-size enemy force, augmented with formidable air defenses. A real-time casualty assessment system was used for kill removal. Air transportability and aircraft conversion demonstrations were also conducted at the contractor facility.

The Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) authorized full-rate production of the aircraft and radar in October 1995.


DOT&E has been working with the Army to develop a test plan for follow-on testing of the Lock-On Before Launch Inhibit (LOBL(I)) firing technique for the Longbow Hellfire missile (see Lessons Learned below).


The IOT&E and LFT&E were conducted IAW the approved TEMP (Sep 94) and, as reported to Congress in the October 1995 BLRIP report, were adequate to provide the information necessary to determine the system operationally effective, suitable and survivable. The AH-64D was found to be substantially more effective than the AH-64A Apache in its Initial Operational Test. During the gunnery phase the AH-64D was able to acquire and effectively engage targets in obscuration that precluded engagement by the AH-64A. During force-on-force testing the AH-64D force was significantly more lethal and survivable than the AH-64A force.

The Longbow Apache was also found to be suitable for fielding. The system met its reliability and maintainability requirements, although several objectives were not achieved. AH-64D operational availability compared favorably with the AH-64A, although the system fell short of wartime availability objectives.

A Longbow Apache/Hellfire ADM dated October 18, 1995 requires OSD approve an Army plan to continue to test Lock-on-before Launch (Override) mode of engagement. Testing will culminate with missile firings at moving targets.


One issue uncovered during the Initial Operational Test that requires follow-on testing involves the method of employment of the Longbow Hellfire missile. During the force-on-force phase, Longbow flight crews frequently elected to override the system's automatic mode selection logic and fire missiles from a masked position. This powerful technique can significantly increase the helicopter's survivability, but has not been validated with live missile firings during developmental or operational testing. DOT&E is currently working with the Army to develop a test plan that will confirm system performance using this firing technique. This test program will include computer simulation of the missile's target acquisition and fly-out as well as live missile firings at moving armored vehicles.


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AH-64D Longbow Apache  - FY97 Activity (2024)
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