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Apache helicopter on track for major upgrades at Redstone

HUNTSVILLE — A recent report from the Army at Redstone Arsenal said the AH-64 Apache helicopter is and will remain the Army’s attack helicopter for the foreseeable future.

The Apache Project Office has steadily upgraded the Apache since it was first fielded in the 1980s. The upgrades have produced the world’s premier attack helicopter used by the Army and more than 16 allies around the globe.

The newest upgrade, AH-64E Version 6.5, will include an upgraded software program to increase its survivability on the modern battlefield.

The V6.5 upgrades address Department of Defense security mandates, Army Aviation and Army Capabilities Manager Attack/Recon priorities, and the 2019 Version 6 follow-on operational test and evaluation findings, the Army said.

“We’re very excited about the ongoing development of the V6.5 software as it paves the way for Apache modernization including the integration of the ITEP (Improved Turbine Engine Program) engine,” said Col. Jay Maher, Apache project manager. “V6.5 aligns the entire E model fleet under the same software, streamlining training and maintenance while providing a pathway for sensor/capability parity.”

Other technology enhancements and insertions include:

  • Upgrades in lethality, survivability, situational awareness, navigation and communication.
  • The introduction of an Open Systems Interface, an initial step towards a more open systems architecture that will ultimately allow rapid insertion of new technologies and enhanced capability in future updates.

To date, V6.5 has completed its Systems Readiness Review, and the Preliminary Design Review, the Army said. The next program major milestone, the first flight, is scheduled for this fall.

The V6.5 development program is slated to conclude in 2025 and version 6.5 fielding is targeted for FY26.

“We look forward to integrating this more capable engine onto the AH-64E and performing the necessary testing so one day we can get this into the hands of our warfighters,” said Katie White, Improved Turbine Engine Integration assistant product manager. “The Apache ITE integration team has done a tremendous job collaborating with the V6.5 team, ATEP office, Boeing, General Electric and other stakeholders to enable successful integration and qualification activities.”

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