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News | March 31, 2021

US, International Pilots and Maintainers learn newest version of AH-64 Apache Aircraft

By Belinda Bazinet Program Executive Office, Aviation; Apache Helicopters Program Management Office

The newest AH-64E aircraft, Version 6 (V6), began fielding in January of 2021 and is equipped with the latest communications, navigation, sensors and the first cognitive decision aiding system (CDAS). These systems are a major stepping stone in the Apache program and a key aspect to the Apache’s role in joint all-domain operations and for our international partners. 

For almost three decades, the AH-64 Apache has been the U.S. Army’s premier attack helicopter.  Today, the Apache fleet consists of a mixture of AH-64D and AH-64E model aircraft conducting armed reconnaissance, close combat, mobile strike and vertical maneuver missions in day, night, obscured battlefield and adverse weather conditions.

Whether a new pilot or a seasoned one, operating the AH-64 V6 requires extensive mission equipment and flight training.  To help operators become fully prepared to operate Apache V6, the Program Executive Office for Aviation Apache project office’s New Equipment Training (NET) team provides critical instruction to ensure operators are prepared to safely operate and take full advantage of the many upgrades in V6 aircraft.  

The Apache NET team uses a combination of classroom training, Longbow Crew Trainer (LCT) sessions and training flights to familiarize pilots with the upgraded version. The operator training consists of four different course types: Aircraft Series Transition Course (ASTC), Aircraft Version upgrade training (Differences), the Maintenance Test Pilot (MTP) Series Transition Course and the MTP version upgrade training. These courses vary in length from one week to five weeks. The training will make existing AH-64E version 4 or earlier qualified pilots into to a fully qualified V6 pilot.

“The Version 6 course has changed significantly since we fielded the first unit at Joint Base Lewis-McChord,” Chief Warrant Officer 4 Aaron Simbro, Production & Fielding’s Operator Training Lead, said. “We received a tremendous amount of feedback from the field and the United States Aviation Center of Excellence and we have changed the training considerably.” The updated training plan will include a “capstone” event, which will be a unit led multi-ship mission utilizing the new capabilities of the AH-64E V6. 
“We are currently training 3-17 Cavalry Squadron (CAV), 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga.,” Simbro said. “This training has already begun for the enlisted maintainers assigned to 3-17 CAV.” 

The maintenance courses train Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) 15R, crew chiefs, and MOS 15Y, armament specialists. The maintainer training consists of in person classroom instruction, hands-on maintenance simulation device training and computer based training. The goal is to complete unit maintainer training before the first aircraft are delivered. 

Additionally, the NET teams conduct Link 16 unit manager training (LUM), aircraft refueling training, aviation mission planning system training and secure communication loading/interface training.

While the Apache is the backbone of the U.S. Army’s attack helicopter fleet, the aircraft plays a critical role in a number of international defense forces. And when the V6 is fielded to partner nations through the Foreign Military Sales program, the NET Team will provide training to their pilots and maintainers as well. Training for FMS customer countries take place in their country using their facilities, LCT and aircraft. 

“This is really where you can see the big picture in supporting the Army’s overall mission,” Simbro said. “We are not simply providing military equipment and training to foreign nations, we’re strengthening the security of partner nations, and increasing stability throughout the globe.”

The Apache International Office and NET currently support Qatar, the UK, and Saudi Ministry of National Guard (MNG) customers with Apace V6 differences training.