Warplanes: April 27, 2002

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The US Army has received the last of the 232 AH-64D Longbow Apaches ordered under the first multi-year remanufacturing contract, along with the first of the 269 AH-64Ds ordered under the second such contract. The Army does not expect to get money to rebuild any more old AH-64As beyond these 501, but they are looking into upgrades that could be added to the oldest of the Longbows. As is typical of aircraft upgrade programs, new ideas and new technology are added as production moves forward, and the first and last aircraft from a production run may be very different birds. The Army might simply bring the first Longbow rebuilds up to the standards of the last ones with new digital systems, but the Army also wants a new all-composite rotor blade that will cost less and be more reliable. The Apache did well in Afghanistan. It showed no problems in operating at 12,000 feet in cold weather, and changes made after Desert Storm prevented sand from being an issue.--Stephen V Cole


 


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