Boeing Apache Block III Helicopter Makes 1st Flight





Boeing Apache Block III Helicopter Makes 1st Flight

By Mike Mitchell

December 5, 2009 - The Boeing Apache Block III program has completed the first flight of its structures test aircraft. The test, conducted November 23 in Mesa, demonstrated flight characteristics and handling maneuvers. Tests to continue to expand the helicopter's flight envelope are expected to continue for the next several weeks. Block III technologies being tested include the composite main rotor blade, composite horizontal stabilator, and -701D engines, which include an enhanced digital electronic control unit. The aircraft also features a split-torque face gear transmission that increases power throughput by more than 20 percent within the same physical operating space as the legacy transmission. 

"This flight demonstration is another crucial step as the U.S. Army and Boeing work together to meet the objectives of the Apache Block III program," said Col. Shane Openshaw, Army Apache project manager. "The Apache Block III helicopter meets the Army's requirement to sustain the aircraft for its life cycle while providing superior capabilities to Army aviators, battlefield commanders and soldiers."

The program's avionics test aircraft, which made its first flight ahead of schedule in June 2008, completed the Army's Limited User Test according to schedule, in November, at the Yuma (Ariz.) Proving Ground. "Meeting calendar objectives while integrating new capabilities confirms the maturity of the multiple technologies conceived, designed and developed by Boeing and our key partners for the Apache Block III helicopter," said Al Winn, Boeing Apache Programs vice president. "Our success highlights the value of cooperative development." 

Boeing AH-64D Apache Block III structures test

Apache Block III incorporates 25 technology insertions, providing Network-Centric warfare capabilities in the multi-role combat helicopter for the Army's future force. To enable battlespace dominance, the program will incoporate open systems architecture, wideband network communications, extended range sensing, level IV unmanned aerial vehicle control, extended range fire control radar, extended range missiles, and data fusion to merge off- and on-board sensor imagery. 

With improved aircraft flight performance and reduced operations and support costs, the modernized helicopter will be an important bridge to the future for the U.S. Army. The Block III Apache will interface with today's Stryker Brigade Combat Teams and Future Combat Systems with a fully compatible and rapidly reconfigurable open systems architecture mission processor design. Other key benefits to the U.S. Army include a reduced logistics footprint, and improved readiness and deployability. The Army and Boeing continue to work toward an anticipated Department of Defense acquisition process Milestone C decision in April 2010. 


A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $32 billion business with 70,000 employees worldwide. 

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