(ORDO NEWS) — The American company Boeing announced the upcoming upgrade of the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. The machine will receive enhanced weapons and the ability to launch drones.
The presentation of the upgraded Apache comes as the United States Army Association (AUSA) kicks off its flagship annual convention and trade show in Washington, DC, which is today.
The US military is currently undergoing a massive upgrade called the Future Vertical Lift (FVL), which aims to acquire a number of different next-generation rotorcraft, including a new armed reconnaissance helicopter.
However, the army expects to continue operating existing types of helicopters, including Apache, for at least another 25-30 years.
What will arm the updated Apache
“The redesigned Apache concept is capable of seamlessly and effectively meeting the Army’s evolving attack and reconnaissance requirements, including increased maneuverability, compatibility, lethality, survivability and reach,” Boeing said in a press release today.
The tubular launch canisters are most likely Common Launch Tubes (CLTs) that can be loaded with a variety of munitions and unmanned aerial vehicles.
The pod at the wingtip is similar to one of Raytheon’s pods containing a directional laser that has been demonstrated on the Apache in the past. The capsule can also be an external fuel tank to increase range.
The CLT and integrated laser are in line with Boeing’s press release that a key aspect of the upgraded Apache is the ability to deploy “Airborne Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (ALEs) and Directed Energy Weapons.”
ALEs, which can act as decoys or jammers, as well as loitering munitions, also known as “suicide drones”, can help the Apache become more survivable.
In addition to additional ways to suppress or neutralize enemy air defense systems, air-launched unmanned systems will give AH-64 helicopters an increase in range and allow them to avoid potential dangers.
In addition, the concept art shows a new radar mounted on a mast above the propeller, or it is a modified radar radome for an existing AN/APG-78 Longbow radar.
An improved radar can increase the range of detection and destruction of targets and other threats, as well as improve the accuracy of their tracking. This would be an important addition when combined with longer range ammunition.
It is not clear if the upgraded Apache shown in the concept art will be equipped with a Directional Infrared Countermeasures (DIRCM) system.
DIRCM uses an array of sensors to detect incoming heat-seeking missiles and then uses lasers to blind and shoot them down. Various types of DIRCM have been used by the US Army for several years.
Improved exhaust pipes that mask the infrared trail, combined with the DIRCM system and other countermeasures, will help protect the helicopter from the ever-improving heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles, especially from new generation MANPADS.
Helicopter with artificial intelligence
Details on “advanced systems to reduce cognitive strain and workload on pilots during operations” are also very scarce, but it is known that the US Army is committed to creating a number of systems based on artificial intelligence in this area.
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