Warplanes: Israel Again Updates AH-64s


November 12, 2023: Israel has 48 AH-64s which all have been modified and upgraded over the years with Israeli electronics, and made capable of using a number of Israeli missiles and sensors. These are now known as AH-64DIs and were seen in action in Gaza with a pod mounted behind the 30mm autocannon. This pod contains additional electronic systems including a missile warning receiver, a radar jammer and countermeasures dispensers. Israel has modified its AH-64s to use Israeli weapons like the Spike NLOS missile with a range of 25 kilometers. This is a loitering missile that can be programmed to hit a specific target location or loiter until a suitable target is seen by AH-64 weapons operator using the video camera in the nose of the missile.

Using Israeli electronics also meant it was easier integrating AH-64 systems with Israeli made communications and battle management systems. This also reduced the cost as has the decision to switch to Israeli missiles instead of, or in addition to, the American Hellfire.

With the improved electronics the AH-64 can be used at night and in bad weather and be able to spot things on the ground up to about ten kilometers away. Up to sixteen missiles (plus its 30mm cannon) can be carried, and these weapons are particularly useful for urban warfare when you want to minimize civilian casualties. It was the civilian casualties sometimes caused when Israeli AH-64s were used against Islamic terrorists in Gaza that created political opposition to the U.S. selling Israel more AH-64s or allowing them to upgrade using American suppliers.

Based on past experience, Israel developed tactics that integrated the AH-64s closely with ground units by using its enhanced surveillance capabilities to seek targets at night and in bad weather. This requires more time in the air and that is made possible by carrying one or more RCEFS (Reduced Size Crashworthy External Fuel System) tanks.

The Israelis examined how the U.S. has been using AH-64s in Iraq and Afghanistan and picked up some tips there as well. Now the Israelis are using all that knowledge to upgrade and refurbish their AH-64s with Israeli equipment and ideas and also switch to UAVs or AH-64s controlling one or more UAVs in combat.

The customized Israeli AH-64 has more capabilities than those used by any other country, including the United States. The Americans are adopting some of the Israeli AH-64 modifications, which the Israelis have demonstrated work in combat.


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