When it comes to next-generation capabilities, nothing compares to the multi-mission AH-64D Apache Longbow combat helicopter, the rotorcraft industry's processing giant.
With more than a million lines of computer code driving two-dozen on-board computer processors, the fully integrated Apache Longbow is actually a "mini-system of systems" that integrates a wide range of sensors, weapons, communications, avionics and electronic systems into one formidable opponent. Apache Longbow also incorporates state-of-the-art integrated, computerized training, maintenance and support systems to enhance the aircraft's overall capabilities.
Apache Longbow's modular computer approach and its digital communications system architecture make it the world's most efficient combat helicopter - effortlessly speeding vital data in real time throughout the aircraft - and to other air crews and ground commanders.
By instantaneously linking data from on-board systems, and sensors both on and off the aircraft, and putting that information directly into the flight crew's hands, the battle can literally be won before it's fought, according to Marty Stieglitz, vice president of Apache programs at The Boeing Company in Mesa, Ariz.
"That's an edge that's hard to beat," he said.
Apache Longbow's efficient, fully integrated design capitalizes on the combined power of computers, which conduct mundane tasks while the flight crew attends to more pressing needs in flight. Stieglitz said that drastically reducing the workload inside the cockpit permits the crew to think more clearly, act and react faster and perform additional tasks.
"That's what sets Apache Longbow apart from the competition," he said.
Apache Longbow, the world's only fourth-generation combat helicopter, is the rotorcraft industry's quintessential 21st century fighting machine. The helicopters are in service with the U.S. Army, and international variants of the AH-64D are being delivered to defense forces in The Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
Communications data is controlled and monitored by computer to ease voice and digital communications, while the computer compiles maintenance and fault information for use by ground personnel.
Sophisticated detection systems not only detect and locate potential threats, they tell the pilots what type of vehicles are threatening and describe their characteristics. Any sensor can be coupled to any weapon, providing built-in redundancy and countermeasures for the crew.
Apache Longbow's computers provide redundant capability for key operating systems, assuring continued optimum performance in the event of battle damage or computer problems.
"We've given operators an unparalleled look at the battlefield in virtually any weather and the ability to communicate vital information with other AH-64Ds, other air and ground weapon systems and command-and-control centers in real time," said Bob Mitchell, director of Apache Longbow Business Development.
"We've stripped away any thought that you can hide behind the cloak of night, smoke or adverse weather. Apache Longbow is ready around-the-clock," he added.
With the radar, Apache Longbow crews can scan the battlefield in real time, classify and prioritize multiple threats, and digitally share this battlefield information with other AH-64Ds as well as other friendly forces.
The helicopter's unique design also makes it easily deployable and maintainable in the field.