AH-64 Maintenance

On Strategy Page: Apaches At War

The AH-64 fleet now stands at about 730 aircraft. Up to a third of them have been in Iraq at any one time. The AH-64 has proved very effective, and is in great demand for combat support and convoy escort. Because of the war, the AH-64s are operating at over five times the rate (hours flown per year) they would in peace time.

MO noted a couple of days ago that the helicopter deep attack mission had been pretty much scrapped, but the Apache’s performance in Iraq has been widely praised. If anything, maybe scrapping the deep attack plan will free up some training time to improve the CAS and anti-insurgency role even more.

The Apache has a reputation for being very maintenance-heavy. How would the maintenance of a light attack/observation aircraft along the lines of the A-37 Dragonfly or even a prop plane compare? Maybe another reason to consider adding such a fixed-wing aircraft to the inventory?


  1. From what I understand of the Apache it is pretty good for a helicopter. ‘For a helicopter’ being the key phrase there. It has many advanced features that make working on it easier, but its just not going to compare to most fixed wing aircraft. I don’t think a fixed wing would be a good replacement for helos, but I agree they would be a good idea for some niches. What they would really be good for is taking over from fighters and navy attack aircraft. Rather then havining super hornets fly 500 miles from a aircraft carrier, have smaller planes fly from much closer bases. IMO the big reason we don’t have any, save the A-10, dedicated tactical fixed wing aircraft is because the Air Force avoids it but won’t let the Army get into fixed attack aircraft. What we need is a new ‘Army Air Force’ whose job is to dedicated close air support. They would be free to choose what aircraft/uav’s are best, as the ‘army flies helos air force flies fighters’ rotine leaves little in between.

  2. Stupid rules and turf wars! The reason why Marine Corps close air support is so much better. When the Army really needs close air support for a mission, they bring a USMC Anglico team to get it done.

  3. I can just hear the ‘rending of garments’ at the suggestion of fixed wing aircraft in the Army. (Read that is exactly what they need). Curt LaMay is spinning in his grave. The Air Force certainly doesn’t want anything like the A-10 or whatever. In their eyes that aircraft and the A-37 are only good for one thing (besides the scrap pile) and that thing is winning the Congressional Medal of Ugly. Just flying one can make you a second class citizen at the ‘Gun Fighters’ Club’ Who is in charge of this mess anyway?

  4. I would have thought flying an A-10 would make you a first class member of the ‘Gun Fighter’s Club’ if, for no other reason, that thing has a big damn gun on it! I’ve heard it described as firing ‘cement-filled coke bottles’. Several thousand a minute. It doesn’t sound very fun to be on the receiving end of that.

  5. I second your call for a fixed wing fac / light attach craft. Cant they dig up a few old a1 skyraiders from the bone yard. Hey, wait a minute – arent we really talking about a propeller driven equivalent of a A-10 ???? Just build some new a-10 two seat trainers and call them A-10F (FAC) aircraft.

  6. New A-10 aircraft for the Army would be great (make that fantastic). I don’t think the AF would ever let it happen, but we can dream though..

  7. Stop me if I’m wrong, but there’s an OA-10 in service as a FAC aircraft. Unfortunately it’s still single-seat. I believe a two-seater was offered but turned down. Brilliant.

  8. Aren’t UAVs supposed to be taking over the role of forward observation aircraft? Not that I actually believe they will be worth a damn in that role, but I think that’s the plan. It’s too bad we don’t have something that’s stealthy, quiet, and capable of erasing it’s heat signature with at least a 2 seat capacity. I’m sure an airplane like that would take decades to build and cost thousands of innocent lives. I wonder how long taxpayers are going to put up with the stupidity of the DoD?

  9. In Germany, it was ‘discovered’ that the A-10 and Apache are anvil and hammer of enemy destruction. Each complement and compound the effectiveness of the other. The A-10 should be given to the army. There are some very near real time multiplexing survalience platforms out there. If you hook up some data links between the A-10’s, Apache, and UAV’s you can place the FAC in Las Vegas and he would still have the best view of the field.

  10. All of that fancy electronic stuff is great, but there’s nothing like eyes on the front lines to provide a real picture of what’s going on. Of all the places to put a stealth platform, I’d think this would be it. Something stealthy and quiet, such as a ducted fan powered aircraft. If you used a turboprop engine, the torque output from the shaft could be engaged to either a propulsion or a lift fan more easily than the F-35 engine goes from being a turbojet to a turbofan in VTOL mode.

  11. One of the little talked about parts of the comanche cancellation was that it had nearly nothing to do with UAVs, that was farce. The Army ran the ARH armed recon competion- for much cheaper (albeit less capable) helo doing exactly what the Comanche was going to do. Guess what won? A ‘huey grandkid’ from bell. (replaced the kiowa) Whatever the merits of stealth aircraft are for close air support the army wasn’t willing to pay for them yet. This is at least for helo, for a fixed wing aircraft it may be a different story though, (e.g. stealth a-10).