Apache earns its stripes above the Afghan battlefield

#1
Well done those men! Just a shame it took so long to come into operation.

After years of suffering derision for being over budget and late into service, the Apache attack helicopter has become a vital asset on the Afghan battlefield as a life-saver for paratroopers on the ground.

For the first time the sleek gunships have been tested in a hostile environment and have performed beyond expectation, said the Army Air Corps pilots who fly it.

With an ability to pick out and shoot an insurgent up to two miles away, eight of the £38 million helicopters have been sent to Helmand in southern Afghanistan as part of the 3,300-strong British force that is attempting to bring law and order to a province overrun with Taliban and drug warlords.

It is the first time that the weapon has been used by the Army in combat.


"We will only engage enemy if it is entirely necessary but the message is we are not here to dish out sweets and if you take us on expect the consequences," said Lt Col Richard Felton, the commander of the joint helicopter force in Afghanistan.

"The Paras agree that we have been a great success to the extent that's it's been essential to the operations we have been on. It sends a message to the enemy and provides friends with reassurance.

"Is it value for money? In the past I found that difficult to explain but in the six weeks we have been out here the Apache has proven it is great value for money. It has saved lives already and offers tremendous protection for the troops on the ground."

The deployment of the new Apache last month came only after extensive problems were resolved to get the helicopters into service.

Bought at vast expense by Britain, it had been bogged down by delays, with procurement issues, such as the function of its radio system, and the lack of trained pilots all needing to be addressed before it could be brought into use.

Concerns about its vulnerability to attack were also raised after dozens of American Apaches on missions in both Iraq and Afghanistan were badly shot up from the ground.

But since finally deploying in Afghanistan in early May, the British-developed Apache has been involved with success in 10 firefights, the majority so far in support of American and Canadian troops, and has fired 1,200 rounds of 30mm ammunition from the machine gun mounted under its belly.

From its arsenal of weapons the helicopter has also fired a Hellfire anti-tank missile and some rockets.

Its inaugural use in support of British troops came earlier this month when the men of the 3rd Bn, the Parachute Regiment fought a six-hour battle in the town of Nauzad in which 21 Taliban were killed.
[c]Telegraph
 
#2
Great news. Proves all the teething problems are over. Just to reconfirm support for all coallition soldiers in Helmand, good luck lads and stay safe.

Does it not p*ss anyone else off, though, when you hear journo's banging on about Defence budgets and the like, such as those questioning the 'value for money' factor of the Apache? It saves lives, it's a valuable asset to the British Army, it's gotta be worth every penny or at least a damn site more than the billions of pounds wasted, skimmed, or otherwise 'unnacounted' for by various local governments every year.
 
#3
Happy for the AAC. Hope they get plenty more action.
 
#4
You have to ask yourself though - is this really what we bought it for? If the need is to provide intimate fire support for land combat operations then there are cheaper alternatives which could have been operational years ago. I should think that the SOR is long past it's sell by date in terms of the anticpated operational environments. Still if its all we've got........
 
#6
Xenophon said:
You have to ask yourself though - is this really what we bought it for? If the need is to provide intimate fire support for land combat operations then there are cheaper alternatives which could have been operational years ago. I should think that the SOR is long past it's sell by date in terms of the anticpated operational environments. Still if its all we've got........
All very fair points, but the longbow is the best attack helicopter in the world (perhaps only until the comanche comes online), one of the most adaptable, but also one of the most expensive. I think thats a pretty fair deal, and as such we should have it in our armoury ready to take on any potential scenarios.
 
#9
Xenophon,

Agreed that it was bought to slaughter the Russian hordes, but let's think about it.

It kills people extremely effectively.

I would want it scanning to the front when I (if!) was in the boonies. Especially if it was hot for the poor old Lynx (TOW). (Yes I know the TOW weapon system has been taken off).
 
#10
The Apache STA and weapons systems are optimised for anti-armour engagements. It was purchased at a time when the likelihood of this type of engagement was becoming quite a low order of probability. It may kill people efficiently but we are trying to develop into a joint force for expeditionary operations I still maintain that there were better options. I find it surprising that 10 years ago this aspect of combat development was not identified. (It probably was but, as ever, there were ulterior motives for procuring Apache) It is the best attack helicopter in the world but what we really need is a gunship.

The most stitched up military structure for expeditionary operations is the USMC whatever else may be said about them. They do not field Apache and I believe they never will - they see no requirement for it and get better value for money out of a simpler, less expensive platorm, in ES/CSS terms, yet still mount STA and weapons systems that meet all their battlefield needs. Witness the use of USMC gunships in support of 1 (UK) Armd Div on Op TELIC; extremely efficient and no less efficiacious in killing people.

It's water under the bridge now so, as I said, if Apache is what we have let's make best use of it.
 
#11
Chalky said:
Agent_Smith said:
All very fair points, but the longbow is the best attack helicopter in the world (perhaps only until the comanche comes online)
Sorry, mate. Commanche has been binned


Edited: Beaten to it.
Doh!!! :oops:

Seems the 'Pilotless Drones are the way ahead' lobby had the loudest voice. :roll:
 

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