Forces of Valor 85308 US Army Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow Attack Helicopter - Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq, 2003 (1:72 Scale)
"Obsolete weapons do not deter."
- British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
The Apache is a twin-engined attack helicopter developed by McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing). It entered service with the US Army in 1984, and has been exported to Egypt, Greece, Israel, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. The US Army has more than 800 Apaches in service with a further 1,000 exported to other nations. The Apache was first used in combat in 1989 by the US military in Panama. It was also employed in the Gulf War and has supported low intensity and peacekeeping operations worldwide including Turkey, Bosnia and Kosovo.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a US Army AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter that was flown during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Length: 8.75 inches
Rotor Span: 7.25 inches
Release Date: September 2008
Historical Account: "Desert Warfare" - Recent reports indicate that the helicopter is vulnerable to ground forces in certain environments, such as when operating in urban terrain. Since 2003, Iraqi ground troops and insurgents were able to damage propulsion and flight control systems with ground fire, sometimes forcing the helicopters to make immediate emergency landings or shooting them down. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, some Apaches were damaged in combat, including one captured by Iraqi troops near Karbala on March 24th, 2003, and shown on Iraqi television.
The captured helicopter was destroyed via airstrike the day after it was captured. The March 24th attack, against an armored brigade of the Iraqi Republican Guard's Medina Division, was largely unsuccessful, apparently because the tank crews had set up a "flak trap" in broken terrain, employing their HMGs to good effect. More recently two Apaches were lost along with their crews between January 28th and February 2nd, 2007 to Iraqi insurgent ground fire in Taji and Najaf.
There are various factors that contribute to this vulnerability. First, Apaches were designed to engage and destroy armor at safe ranges, where they could not be fired upon. Secondly, infantry are less easily detected than armor. In Iraq, the close quarters, and ample cover afforded by the urban environment make it easy for ground forces to attack at close ranges (50 - 850 m. This environment brought out the Apache's vulnerability to close range attacks from heavy caliber machine guns (0.5 inch). Also, since the Apache is only capable of firing at a single target at a time, it is vulnerable when attacked from several dispersed positions. Combat utility helicopters like the UH-60 Black Hawk may not suffer this disadvantage, as they have multiple manned side armaments, adding extra protection in certain tactical situations. However, the Apache has superior maneuverability, armament, and speed.
In either case, the Apache's use in both attack and support roles in urban environments has proven effective. Apaches have been successful working in support roles with ground troops, and as an observation platform for directing artillery. Despite the Apache's vulnerability in urban operations, it is currently rated as one of the most survivable of all military helicopters. The vast majority of Apache helicopters that have taken heavy combat damage have been able to continue their assigned missions and return safely to their bases. For example, of the 33 Apaches employed in the March 24th, 2003 attack, 30 were damaged by Iraqi ground fire with several being write-offs, but only one of these did not make it back to base (although in this case, the mission objective was apparently not achieved).