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Edited by Christian Lowe | Contact

Brits See Longbow as Key to Apache Ops


British army Apache attack helicopters in Afghanistan are the only Apaches in the country that fly with the mast-mounted Longbow radar installed -- and that is giving them a distinctive edge in the NATO-led operations against Taliban and other opposing militant forces, the commander of the unit says.

Lt.Col. Jon Bryant, commanding officer of the Apache-equipped No. 3 Regiment (Army Air Corps) at Wattisham, Suffolk, says that the Longbow radar is "extremely useful in airspace deconfliction terms."

"When on patrol, we are sharing the airspace with other Apaches, Chinooks, Lynxes, fixed-wing aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles," says Col. Bryant, who recently returned from a tour as commanding officer of Britain's Joint Helicopter Force (Afghanistan) at Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan.

Especially at night, the radar helps pilots to build up situational awareness and to prevent getting dangerously close to other aircraft during tactical maneuvers.

See the rest of this article from our Aviation Week partners at

-- Christian


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Posted by: wowpowerleveling at April 15, 2008 01:47 AM

The US Apaches have additional internal fuel tanks as well, but that requires a compromise in ammo capacity. However, there is no Apache out there, even the UK Apache, who are flying with FULL fuel, FULL arms complement AND the FCR (radar) and have no loss in performance. Every additional bit of weight added yields a loss in performance. With a full load these Apaches are still flying close to their power margins at high altitides such as in Afghanistan. Mission sometimes requires flights above 12,000 feet MSL, which is hard for an aircraft over 18,000 lbs. Do not be confused, the additional shp added by the upgraded engines offer a substantial benefit over the US 701C engines, but the addition of the FCR puts them at nearly the same power margin. US AH-64Ds have not been using the FCRs in Afghanistan due to the power limitations. Apache pilots are accustomed to regularly being keenly aware of performance limitations and operating at their edge. Don't think that these aviators are at a limitless performance margin, they are flying with caution so as not to fall out of the sky.

Posted by: Apache Pilot at November 30, 2007 04:01 AM

I read somewhere that American Apaches had the option of upgrading their engines to the same ones used by the UK. Could that become one of the upcoming upgrades with Block III? I mean,you can't argue with more power.

Posted by: Roy Smith at November 28, 2007 10:27 AM

SMSgt Mac and Mike, yes the transmission was not upgraded at the time, though this is now being done.

The Rolls Royce engines are more fuel efficient than the older counterparts, though obviously they still use more fuel but only slightly.

Yes they do have a slightly longer flying time than there American counterparts and due to upgraded avionics and the Longbow can fly in conditions that have grounded the US Apaches in Afghanistan.

However this is not a case of "ours is better than yours" just a case of different requirements and the UK version not entering service until 2005

Posted by: Wren Mandagorn at November 28, 2007 05:50 AM

The British Apaches have the engines they do in part because of trade offsets that sweetened the deal (like the final assembly work in the UK did as well)to get the contract. I would be surprised if the overall performance of the Brit Longbows are more than only 'slightly' better than the American versions. Perhaps a little higher MTOW (and maybe a little more ferry range), but I expect a lot of the increased takeoff weight gets accounted for in the increased fuel capacity required to feed more powerful engines and the additional weight of the UK's blade-folding mechanism (UK shipboard req't). Although the engines in the UK version are more powerful, they almost certainly burn fuel faster to make that power. If the engines were of the same generation I would guarantee it, but since the Rolls Royces are about a decade newer design they probably have a slightly better burn rate for the same Shaft Horsepower settings - not a trivial matter when you factor in operating costs.
In any case, the transmissions are the same I believe, which means the UK powerplants probably stress the gearboxes and rotor system a little more as well.
They are both good systems, and Longbow makes the Apaches of any stripe far more effective than just about anything else they could stick on the airframe.

Posted by: SMSgt Mac at November 27, 2007 08:41 PM

Sounds like the Apache is taking on the role of a mini-ground-AWACS... I wonder if helo's should be tasked/specialize for that duty from now on.

Sim story over'hara...
"Afghan Field Report: British WAH-64Ds"

Posted by: Camp at November 27, 2007 04:19 PM

"The UK use the RTM322 Mk250 Engines giving 2,260 shp"

Yes, but the transmission was not upgraded. It's the old one.

Posted by: Mike at November 27, 2007 02:19 PM

I remember reading a story a while ago where some royal marines strapped themselves to the side of their apache and flew into a fire fight to pick up a wounded soldier, i think those Brits use this helicopter to the fullest which is good.

Posted by: Jon at November 27, 2007 10:20 AM

You forgot to mention though that the UK Apaches have better engines than there American and Dutch counterparts. The UK use the RTM322 Mk250 Engines giving 2,260 shp while the US and Dutch (the only other Apache's operating in Afghanistan)use the Apache standard engine GE T701C Engines giving 1,890 shp

The UK Apaches also use additional internal fuel tanks, giving them longer endurance and along with the more powerful engines mean the Apaches can fly with the additional weight of the Radar and a full arms compliment with no loss of performance in the high altitude and often hot / dusty conditions encountered.

Posted by: Wren Mandagorn at November 27, 2007 09:13 AM

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