“The primary function of the Apache is to deal death and destruction on the battlefield.”
AH-64E Apache Guardian
Nation of Origin:
2 (pilot and gunner/co-pilot)
Two 1,994-horsepower GE turboshaft engines
175 mph (284 kph)
Rate of Climb:
2,800 feet per minute
15,075 lbs (6,838 kg)
One 30mm M230 Autocannon w/1,200 rounds of ammunition
Two 70mm Hydra rocket pods w/76 rounds of ammunition
Four AGM-114 Hellfire rocket pods w/16 rounds of ammunition
The AH-64 Apache is a heavily-computerized twenty-million dollar armored flying death tank that shoots high-explosive grenades out of a motherfucking chain gun and can ram a Hellfire missile up the tailpipe of a speeding pickup truck from six miles away in the middle of the night during a rainstorm. It’s got seats made out of bullet-proof Kevlar, a cockpit that can withstand a direct hit from a surface-to-air missile, and it’s one of the only helicopters in the world that can do a fucking barrel roll at 165 miles per hour while simultaneously acquiring missile locks on up to 128 enemy targets at once.
I was in like fifth grade or something when Desert Storm went down, and I remember I had this awesome book that had photos and stats on all the badass shit the U.S. was going to use to stomp the piss out of Saddam Hussein. Anyway, by far the coolest fucking picture in the entire book was this photo of the AH-64A Apache attack helicopter posing with all its ammo and upgrades:
There has never been a more American photo ever. I swear I hear Lee Greenwood singing every time I look at it.
There are few things in the world more goddamn terrifying than staring head-on at the business end of an air-to-ground attack helicopter. That shit invokes the primal feeling of uncontrollable terror that locks up deer and antelopes and shit so they just end up standing there motionless with a stupid look on their face as a lion charges them or you plow them with the front bumper of your chevy. As scary as the scream of a jet engine might be, combat choppers are even more deadly to a man on the ground because these suckers don’t just whoosh by like an attack airplane and try and strafe your ass as they rip past at Mach four – these are stalking predators, and their pilots have the luxury of just hovering mid-air, kicking back, and chilling with their fingers on the trigger they have visual confirmation that you’ve been melted inside-out by a non-stop barrage of fist-sized bullets.
The AH-64 Apache is the most lethal attack helicopter in United States history, and to this day it remains the front-line ground attack helicopter in the American arsenal. Cruising at 15,000 feet, this twin-engine, four-blade war machine is so badass that it literally carries a weapon known as a Hellfire Missile, which honestly sounds like some fucked-up D&D epic-level artifact shit, and the vehicle itself is named for probably the most badass Native American tribe of them all. Hell, Geronimo was the most well-known Apache, and Geronimo also just happens to be the battle cry that people yell right before they do something hella balls-to-the-wall fucking awesome.
While we’re on the subject of D&D shit, the Apache is such a complex high-tech piece of equipment that piloting it is known as “Riding the Dragon,” and you know that when your job shares its nickname with a euphemism for smoking heroin you’re pretty fucking extreme. The men and women (and there are several women) who fly these suckers are required to have two years of helicopter piloting experience before volunteering for Apache jobs, and even then it takes a full year of training before you’re allowed to take this $20 million flying death machine out for a spin. Part of this is because the configuration of the cockpit is a little weird – the pilot sits in the back seat, not the front – and also because you fly this thing while wearing a fucking monocle in one eye that is simultaneously giving you instrumentation readouts on twelve systems, feeding you radar information, and manipulating a 30mm chain gun.
Here’s a super awesome thing about the Apache – its main armament is a Vulcan gun that fires 30mm rounds (basically the same size and explosive yield of a standard fragmentation hand grenade) to the tune of 600 rounds per minute, and the pilot aims the gun by looking through the monocle at whatever the hell he decides he wants to kill. That’s right – the gun, mounted under the nose of the aircraft, is wired to the monocle and will turn and spin to point wherever the pilot is looking. You know how a lot of Internet people talk about “shooting goddamned lasers out of your eyes” when they’re trying to be funny? Apache pilots shoot full-auto grenades out of their eyes and they do it in real life on a regular basis.
A British soldier loading 30mm rounds into the Apache
In addition to the remote-controlled Gatling gun grenade launcher, the AH-64 Apache also carries up to sixteen AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground rockets, each of which can be launched with pinpoint accuracy at targets five miles away and detonate with an explosive force massive enough to smash front-line Soviet battle tanks into metal confetti. It can also mount over seventy rockets, and the fact that goddamn seventy air-to-ground rockets only merits half a sentence in this article should give you some indication of how awesome this vehicle is.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and link in a fairly fucked-up video I found recently. Its cockpit gun-cam footage of an Apache engaging over twenty Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan and ruining their shit in about fifteen seconds. I’ll warn you before you play it that this is pretty fucked up, because it shows real people getting blown up, albeit through the lens of a black-and-white thermal scope. Feel free to skip it if you want.
Dude. That’s…. insane. It doesn’t even seem fair. These guys are experienced, hardened guerilla fighters, presumably really well-concealed in vegetation and behind rocks in preparation for a dangerous ambush, but to the Apache they’re lit up like Christmas trees and it takes about six seconds for the chopper to utterly ruin them with death from above. And while it might seem like such a one-sided battle that you might as well be playing an arcade game on Easy mode, You can also be damn sure the Allied troops on the ground appreciate the fact that there’s an armored flying death-copter hovering high above them in the night sky.
If you decide you want to go down that rabbit hole there are quite a few morevideos like the one I posted, or you can just save time and grab yourself a copy of Jungle Strike for the Sega Genesis because it’s pretty much the same thing.
This is the level where you have to use Hellfires to blow up suicide bomb vans before they hit the White House
In addition to being able to kill you from the sky out of nowhere whenever it wants, the Apache is also completely immune to pretty much any type of weaponry you could possibly get your hands on. The rotors survive burst fire from a 20mm autocannon. The cockpit canopy can absorb a direct hit from an RPG. It’s got a self-sealing fuel system, Kevlar seats, and is so armor-plated that AK-47 bullets bounce off it like the hull was plated with Superman’s skin. If you do manage to damage the aircraft, each pilot’s seating area is independently armored, so if Snake Eyes uses his Dragon Katana to stab the pilot through the windshield (from what I understand, Japanese swords are the only melee weapons in the world that can damage a helicopter), the co-pilot is still walled off by more bulletproof glass than the asshole behind the counter at the bank.
Pretty much the only thing an Apache needs to worry about are anti-aircraft missiles, and it’s got more than enough countermeasures onboard to help protect it there as well. The stubby-looking nose cone at the front of the fuselage might look weird, but it’s packed with enough electronics to give your Computer Science nerd friends a spontaneous planet-killing boner. It scrambles enemy communications, jams radar, interferes with enemy scanning frequencies, and bounces laser range-finders. In the unlikely event that you’re able to lock on, the Apache immediately sends a warning to the pilot any time it’s detected by radar or hit with a laser, and it can deploy flares and other countermeasures to lure incoming missiles away. Basically, it’s awesome, and it looks fucking cool. Here’s a picture of a goddamn Apache doing a loop-de-loop while deploying chaff and it looks like it should be superimposed over an American flag with some kind of patriotic hymn being played out by a military band in the background.
I want this shit on a commemorative coin. Football teams should put it on their helmets.
For being such a complicated piece of machinery, the AH-64A Apache was first prototyped in 1975. It went into further development in 1982, and was finally put into production in 1984. It saw its first combat in Panama in ’89, but really stomped fucking nuts in the desert during Desert Storm in 1991 – Apaches alone were responsible for over five HUNDRED confirmed kills against Iraqi tanks, APCs, and transport trucks, then escorted U.S. airborne troops during their assaults after the ground war began. Despite being nearly 30 years old, there are still AH-64As in service in the USA, although most models these days are the upgraded versions – AH-64D Apache Longbows or AH-64E Apache Guardians. The upgraded versions differ from the original AH-64A in that they are better and have newer and cooler stuff on them.
All told, there have been around 2100 Apaches produced, which really isn’t that much when you consider the production runs of other types of aircraft or ground vehicles. These 2100 helicopters had logged 3.9 million flight hours in the past thirty years, with about a million of them coming during live-fire combat missions. It’s a vital part not only of the United States and British Armies, but is also used by Israel, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands, Singapore, Kuwait, Egypt, and the UAE. I mean, it should tell you something about the fucking badass cred of the Apache that even Israel and Saudi Arabia can agree on it.
Despite being the coolest shit ever, the Apache is due to be phased out by 2030. So enjoy her while she lasts.