The British Army has reorganized its introduction plans for the Apache attack helicopter for the second time in four years. A force of 67 AH.1s basically, the British version of the U.S. Army's AH-64 won't reach full operational capability until 2010. The Army is having difficulties recruiting and training enough two-man air crews; it also had delays in getting the helicopter simulators working.
Initially, the UK had planed to have 144 air crews fully trained by February 2007, but now only 126 air crews will ready for action by 2009. The first UK Apache regiment became operational this past May, with the second planned for operations in 2007, with the third ready by October 2009. The initial working plan was to have everyone converted over by February 2007.
There's some good news. Eight Apaches have been modified to operate off of Royal Navy amphibious ships, to support amphibious operations. Modifications included anti-corrosion measures. By the end of the 2005, nine crews should be qualified to fly off of the carrier HMS Ocean, and the navy's two amphibious assault ships. More maritime-qualified crews are expected in 2006, along with certifying the Apache for operations off the Invincible-class aircraft carriers. Doug Mohney