By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (April 03, 2015) -- In late March, the Army accepted delivery of the 100th AH-64E Apache helicopter.
The "Echo" model is a complete rebuild of the AH-64D model. It includes an improved drive system, composite main rotor blades, a more powerful 701D GE engine, is fully digitized, and has level-4 manned-unmanned teaming, which allows pilots to control unmanned aerial systems - such as the Gray Eagle.
The Echo model, "can fly higher, faster and further than the D model - and the D model is an extremely capable aircraft," said Col. Jeffrey Hager, the Apache project manager.
Hager spoke, March 31, during a media event at the Army Aviation Association of America conference in Nashville, Tennessee.
"But this aircraft outperforms and outdoes the Delta model to date," Hager said. "The enemy continually [was] thrown off-base because the Echo showed up to combat operations well before the Delta could have under the same conditions."
The AH-64E's recent success came in Afghanistan with the 1-229th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, or ARB, out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. The unit was the first to be fielded with the aircraft.
"They flew nearly 11,000 combat hours - that's absolutely phenomenal for what we have done with the Echo - since it's a brand new airframe," he said. "The enemy had to change up their combat operations in order to combat the effectiveness of the Echo model."
Hager said the 1-101st ARB out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, will continue with that success when they replace the 1-229th in Afghanistan later this fiscal year. The 1-25th ARB has also been fielded with the AH-64E Apache. And already, training coordination has begun for the fourth unit to be equipped with the aircraft, the 3-301st ARB, out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
The Echo model has maintained 80 percent operational readiness rates, whether in combat or in peacetime operations, Hager said.