The Apache Helicopter is a revolutionary development in the history of war. It is essentially a flying tank a helicopter designed to survive heavy attack and inflict massive damage. As a whole, it is a terrifying machine to ground forces. The Apache is the primary attack helicopter in the U.S.Arsenal. Other countries, including the United Kingdom, Israel and Saudi Arabia, have also added Apaches to their fleet. In this topic, we’ll look at the Apache’s amazing flight systems, weapon systems, engines, sensor systems and amour systems. Individually, these components are remarkable pieces of technology. Combined together, they make up an unbelievable fighting machine – the most lethal helicopter ever created.
The first series of Apaches, developed by Hughes Helicopters in the 1970s, went into active service in 1985. The U.S military is gradually replacing this original design, known as the AH-64A Apache, with the more advanced AH-64D Apache Longbow. In 1984, Mc Donnell Douglas purchased Hughes Helicopters, and in 1997, Boeing manufactures Apache helicopters, and the UK-based GKN Westland helicopters manufacturers the English versions of the Apache, the WAH-64.
The Apache Helicopters use turbo shaft jet engines to power their rotors. Some older or smaller helicopters use "reciprocating" (Piston) engines for their power source, but most of the helicopters in use today use gas-turbine engines. They are light, very powerful and economical. The best part is that they are very reliable as well. Failure rates for gas-turbine engines are very low because there are not as many internal moving parts as there are in a reciprocating engine.
The Apache's chief function is to take out heavily armored ground targets, such as tanks and bunkers. To inflict this kind of damage, you need some heavy fire power, and to do it from a helicopter, you need an extremely sophisticated targeting system. The Apache's primary weapon, the Hellfire missile, meets these demands. Each missile is a miniature aircraft, complete with its own guidance computer, steering control and propulsion system. The payload is a high-explosive, copper-lined-charge warhead powerful enough to burn through the heaviest tank armor in existence. The Apache carries the missiles on four firing rails attached to pylons mounted to its wings. There are two pylons on each wing, and each pylon can support four missiles, so the Apache can carry as many as 16 missiles at a time. Before launching, each missile receives instructions directly from the helicopter's computer. When the computer transmits the fire signal, the missile sets off the propellant. Once the burning propellant generates about 500 pounds of force, the missile breaks free of the rail. As the missile speeds up, the force of acceleration triggers the arming mechanism. When the missile makes contact with the target, an impact sensor sets off the warhead.
Before giving the firing signal, the Apache computer tells the missile's control system the specific pulse pattern of the laser. The missile has a laser seeker on its nose that detects the laser light reflecting off the target. In this way, the missile can see where the target is. The guidance system calculates which way the missile needs to turn in order to head straight for the reflected laser light. To change course, the guidance system moves the missile's flight fins. This is basically the same way an airplane steers.
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