Apache clocks up 100,000 hours

An Apache AH.1 during a training exercise on Salisbury Plain / © Philip Stevens

An Apache AH.1 during a training exercise on Salisbury Plain / © Philip Stevens

Posted By Philip Stevens

The British Army’s Apache Attack Helicopter has clocked up a landmark 100,000 flying hours, a third of which have been flown on operations in Afghanistan. The achievement – equivalent to a single helicopter staying aloft for 11˝ years – has seen Apache emerge as a vital battlefield tool in Afghanistan. As well as pinpoint strikes in support of ISAF troops, Apache has proved itself invaluable through its ability to escort other helicopters and land convoys and ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) capabilities.

At the same time, Attack Helicopter (AH) Force has developed a limited maritime strike capability. Currently 656 Squadron, 4 Regiment Army Air Corps is deployed onboard HMS Ocean in the Mediterranean.

AH Force Commander Colonel Neale Moss said: “Passing 100,000 flying hours in Apache is a significant achievement that is worth proudly celebrating. Apache is a highly capable and versatile aircraft that has proved its value time and time again on operations in Afghanistan, and its future role is constantly evolving. “But the success of the aircraft is down to the people that operate it, both in and out of uniform. That group – which we call UK Team Apache - ranges from the pilots and ground crew currently operating in the demanding environment of Afghanistan to the industry partners who developed, built and help to maintain the aircraft. I look forward to bringing together these dedicated and professional people to celebrate the next 100,000 hours of flying Apache.”

The Apache is flown on operations by 3 and 4 Regiments Army Air Corps, based at Wattisham in Suffolk. The two units have provided a continuous presence in Afghanistan since 2006 on rotation. Some personnel have completed five four-month long tours. Second line maintenance on operations is provided by 7 Air Assault Battalion, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

Defence Secretary, Dr Liam Fox said: “The Army's Attack Helicopter Force has proven itself to be a versatile and capable attack platform providing vital support to our ground troops over the last five years in Afghanistan. The aircraft are only as good as the people who are involved and I praise the Attack Helicopter Force for delivering this considerable capability and achieving the milestone of 100,000 flying hours."

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Source: Gareth Palmer, 16 Air Assault Brigade Press Officer

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