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Netherlands Defense Ministry Declares First Modernized Apache AH-64E Helicopters Combat Ready.

| Defense News Army 2024

According to recent information released by the Ministry of Defense of the Netherlands, the first modernized Apache AH-64E attack helicopters are now combat ready. These updates have been applied to four helicopters stationed at Gilze-Rijen Air Base, preparing them for both national and international missions. These aircraft are the pioneers in a group of 20 undergoing renovations, and they will continue to serve until 2050. Additionally, six helicopters are currently utilized for training by the Defence organization at the Texas Cavazos (formerly Fort Hood) in the United States, with plans to add two more aircraft to the fleet in 2025.
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The modernized version of the AH-64E attack helicopter for the Air Force of Netherlands. (Picture source Boeing)

The Royal Netherlands Air Force's fleet consists of 28 AH-64 Apache helicopters, first delivered in 1998. These helicopters have been pivotal in various international missions and training exercises. They are part of a comprehensive modernization and maintenance program aimed at ensuring their operational readiness and technological advancement.

The Apache AH-64E version has undergone significant upgrades to enhance its performance and adaptability for modern warfare requirements. One of the key features is the integration of Launched Effects (LE), Long Range Precision Munitions (LRPM), and Direct Energy Weapons (DEW). This capability is facilitated through the helicopter's open system architecture and advanced crew station interfaces, allowing for seamless use of various munitions and technologies.

The helicopter's rotor and drive systems have also been improved, featuring an enhanced main rotor hub, tail rotor, and drive systems. These modifications have not only increased the power capability of the Apache AH-64E, resulting in higher payload capacity and extended operational reach but have also led to a decrease in maintenance costs. The components now have increased life and longer inspection cycles, contributing to overall improved readiness.

In terms of pilot interaction and efficiency, the Apache AH-64E features an advanced crew station equipped with a large area touchscreen display and a bi-ocular color helmet display. These upgrades, alongside improved mission controls, significantly elevate situational awareness and reduce the pilot workload during missions.

Sustainment of the helicopter has been revolutionized with next-generation health and usage monitoring systems (HUMS) and enhanced system-level embedded diagnostics (SLED). These advancements contribute to increased operational readiness and lower operating costs.

The upgraded fuselage of the Apache AH-64E enhances its overall durability and performance. The modifications include improvements to the main rotor hub and drive systems, as well as the use of composite materials which improve the design's durability and resistance. Additional enhancements include increased fuel capacity and improved ballistic tolerance.

Finally, the flight control system has been upgraded to significantly reduce pilot workload. The system now includes haptic cueing and advanced hold modes, enabling pilots to operate the helicopter safely and effectively under any conditions.

Together, these enhancements make the modernized Apache AH-64E a formidable asset in the Royal Netherlands Air Force, equipped to handle the demands of modern combat and strategic military operations.

Defense News April 2024

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