TechBritish Armed Forces retire Apache Mk.1 helicopters for AH-64E Guardians

British Armed Forces retire Apache Mk.1 helicopters for AH‑64E Guardians

Apache Mk.1 - British version of the Apache
Apache Mk.1 - British version of the Apache
Images source: © Julian Herzog, Lic. CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons | Julian Herzog
12:17 AM EDT, March 28, 2024
The British Armed Forces are saying goodbye to the Apache Mk.1 helicopters. The licensed-built helicopters proved too problematic in operation and maintenance. The British Armed Forces have already chosen their successors, following in the footsteps of Poland.

On March 25, the British Armed Forces marked the end of an era with a symbolic farewell flight of two Apache Mk.1 helicopters. At the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, Britain acquired 67 of these units. The British attack helicopters were first tested in combat in Afghanistan before being deployed in other operations, including Libya.

After nearly 25 years of service, these helicopters, constructed under an American license, were found to be unsuitable for further use. This led the British to seek a new type of aircraft. What was their choice?

Apache Mk.1 - the British take on an American design

The Apache Mk.1 represents the British adaptation of the AH-64D Apache helicopter. Opting for 67 such helicopters, Britain chose to incorporate their own innovations rather than rely solely on American designs.

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Notable British modifications included the installation of Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322 engines, integration with different communication systems supporting the BOWMAN standard, the addition of British HIDAS (Helicopter Integrated Defensive Aids System) self-protection systems, and the adoption of slightly different armaments, such as 2.75-inch CRV7 rocket missiles.

London opts for AH-64E Guardian helicopters

Additionally, the British helicopters were modified with a rotor folding mechanism for storage in constrained spaces, like naval ship hangars, and equipped with an anti-icing system to enable operation in Arctic conditions.
However, these customizations led to incompatibility with other Apaches worldwide. This made accessing spare parts more difficult, leading to a decrease in the operational readiness of the British fleet.
In the mid-2010s, the decision was finally made to retire the Apache Mk.1. However, London is not abandoning attack helicopters. Instead, 50 of the retired machines will be updated to the latest American standard, the AH-64E Guardian. This is the same model that Poland is planning to acquire 96 units of.
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