Naval Air: The Army Goes to Sea


February 1, 2006: The U.S. Army is modifying the radar on its AH-64 Apache helicopter gunships so that it can detect boats on the water. This would be used when AH-64s are operating along coasts, where there was no (or not enough) navy forces available to do the job. This is not the first time the army has developed sea control capability. As far back as the American Civil War, the army bought, built or captured boats and ships to help it with operations along coasts or on rivers. This continued through every war since, despite U.S. Navy protests and attempts to keep the soldiers on land. In wartime, the protests are often absent, or muted. The air force gets in on this as well. During the last years of the Cold War, U.S. Air Force B-52s were equipped with anti-ship missiles, and the means to spot naval targets. Naval aviation has also made itself useful for land operations. After the Cold War ended, the navy found itself with a lot of late-model, but unneeded P-3 naval patrol aircraft. They tweaked the radars so land areas could be searched as well. Since then, P-3s have made themselves useful during several land campaigns, including support of SOCOM (commando) operations.


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