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Fleece’s Faves – Apache edition

March 27, 2011

Following the successes of the Ah-1 “Huey” Cobra during the Vietnam War, and the scrapping of the AH-58 Cheyenne attack helicopter program due to the Key West Agreement (a stupid piece of legislation forbidding the US Army from possessing fixed wing assets – the Cheyenne had stub-wings that actually provided lift during level flight, hence it was a “plane” not a chopper), the US Army desiring a reliable and organic anti-armor and close air support asset instituted an Advanced Attack Helicopter competition in which Bell and Boeing Helicopters participated.  The winner of said competition was the Boeing AH-64 Apache.


We might as well start with its reason for existence, its guns and missiles.  The Apache possesses one potent weapon, hunkering down under her profound nose, the M230 30mm Chain Gun.  Look closely at the picture – a chain gun IS NOT a gatling gun.  Gatling guns are used on aircraft for one purpose only, they have ungodly rates of fire.  A chain gun on the other hand is used for reliability.  Fighter jets’ primary weapon system is their Air to air missiles, they rarely use their guns for air combat, thus rate of fire is preferred and reliability is not so big an issue.  Conversely, an attack chopper’s gun is one of its primary systems, it must work all the time.

A chain gun is pretty cool.  The reason for the cool though enigmatic name (for the uninitiated) is because the bolt is actually operated by a chain that encompasses the whole bolt carrying mechanism.  As the weapon is fired, electrical connections make the chain revolve around the bolt carrier, basically forcing the system to seat and eject rounds as it operates – compared to a gas-fired weapon which uses the basic physics of explosive gas blowback to eject rounds.  The problem with gas operated systems is that they can jam, often forcing the operator to physically remove the jammed cartridge from the weapon before it can be fired again.  Obviously, if one looks at the picture, this would be quite a harrowing task in mid-flight considering the location of the weapon in proximity to the pilots.  Hence, a chain gun is the best solution for maintaining reliability during combat operations.

Enough of that.  The gun fires a 30mm round, which translates to a projectile a little over an inch wide.  This is a big round!  The Apache typically packs 1200 rounds of the M789 HEDP (High-Explosive Dual Purpose) round, capable of penetrating up to 2 inches of Rolled Homogenous Armor or in an anti-personnel application, a lethal radius of 10 feet, pretty impressive.  The gun fires around 300 rounds per minute, though it can max at 625 rpm.  The projectile flies at an awfully slow 800 m/s, rendering the standard effective range at about 1500 meters.

Probably the coolest thing about the gun system and the Apache in general, is how this weapon can be slaved to the pilots helmet system in the cockpit.  Using a monocle in his helmet, the pilot can target this gun simply by moving his head and looking at what he wants to shoot at, the weapon follows his every movement.  How neat is that?  Virtual reality in the 80’s.

Besides the gun, the Apache relies on a bevy of antitank Guided missiles to do its job of anti-armor support – this bird is a tank killer.  Capable of carrying up to 16 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, a typical combat load reduces this number in half to 8.  The Hellfire is a beast of a missile.  With a warhead of 20 pounds, and a range of over 8000 meters, there are not many tanks on the battlefield that can survive a strike from one of these missiles.

The Hellfire is a laser guided weapon.  This means it “rides” a laser beam from the Apache to the target.  The Apache has a separate targeting system for the Hellfires, called the TADS (Target Acquisition and Designation System).  This is an infrared, low-light Television and laser designating module that sits at the extreme front of the aircraft, operated by the co-pilot who sits front and below the pilot.  The beauty of the Hellfire is that it can use anyone’s laser designation, not just the originating chopper’s.  Thus, a single Apache or Oh-58 Kiowa Scout (a scout chopper commonly couple with Apache wings) can “lase” targets for multiple Hellfire missiles from multiple birds.

The Apache will also frequently equip 70mm Hydra rocket pods.  The 70mm Hydra rocket is an unguided “dumb” rocket used for area attack.  In a covering force role, the Apache will typically equip 38 of these rockets in two pods of 19.

Lastly, depending on the model of the Apache (see Longbow below), the helo can also equip AIM-92 Air to Air Stinger missiles for self-defense from other aircraft.

The Longbow

Besides having a really cool name, the Longbow Apache is a major upgrade over the standard chopper.  The most obvious difference is the bulbous millimeter wave radar dome mounted high above the main rotor.  This dome allows a single Apache, in a hull down position hidden by trees, buildings or a hill, to radar designate up to 128 individual targets at a range up to 8000 meters.  Coupled with the new dome, the Longbow Apaches possess a new digital data system that allows this targeting information to be transferred to other Apaches on the battlefield.  Equipped with an upgraded Longbow Hellfire, a fire and forget millimeter wave guided missile, these targets can quickly and efficiently be dispatched in one fail swoop by any number of birds within range.


No efficient fighting force can rely on an outside asset to efficiently provide the close air support it needs to protect its troops on the ground – the Army understood this and so desired an asset that would do the job.  As with most things the Army develops, the end product was far and away much better than ever considered possible.  The Apache and especially the Longbow Apache, is one of the most deadly anti-armor weapon systems on the planet.

The links

Lot of goodies this week, of course that means the world around us is declining faster than we can keep up with.  Ho-hum, we are all gonna die.

Republican Redefined – a most excellent piece on Herman Cain – POST OF THE WEEK

Always on Watch – a must see video for everyone reading this about the Muslim Brotherhood – seriously, please watch it

American and Proud – damn, White Supremacists are the biggest threat Iowa can come up with?

America’s Watchtower – Steve tells us how Oklahoma is in big trouble because of Obamacare

Be Sure You’re RIGHT, then Go Ahead – talks about Obama and his confused policy of supporting Jihadists in libya

Blog de KingShamus – KS gives us a funny post about Kinetic Military Actions

Bunkerville – more evidence of the Religion of Peace’s renowned tolerance for other faiths

Capitol Commentary – Harrison reacts to Bill Maher and Now in regards to one lady named Palin

Conservative Hideout – John gives us Patrick Henry’s famous Give me Liberty, or Give me Death speech

Conservatives on Fire – Jim begs for us evil Americans to stop killing him!  He has a map to prove it

motorcitytimes – debunks the Liberal econ myth that printing billions of the worthless paper formerly known as dollars does not cause inflation

NoOneofAnyImport – she wants to be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl…uhmm…go for it girl, own your success

Planet Moron – apparently he has a brother (no proof) and his bro wants to buy a Nissan Leaf (he seriously has no proof)

Political Realities – Larry points us to more Sharia creep in America, this time, Florida

Questioning with Boldness – tells us how Obama funded Qaddafi’s army a month before he decided the transvestite was a bad guy

RJJRDQ’s America II – more on Sharia creep, multiple examples here

The Sentry Journal – John is on a roll, two links on the same linky list – checkout his excellent piece on our true Moral Obligation

Spellchek – excellent analysis of the recent news about GE and their corporate taxes, or lack thereof

The Swash – Canada has generals?  Apparently so, cause one is in charge of the Libya op now

ThatMrgGuy’s Blog – more lies from our government, this time, on the housing market

The Daley Gator – must see short video about the Gay agenda in England’s schools, coming soon to America, guaranteed

New Blogs you should Checkout

Mr. Caps – excellent blog with fantastic writing, please visit and enjoy =)

31 Comments leave one →
  1. March 27, 2011 10:33 am

    LOL thx for the link. I’m feeling a little frivolous lately

    • March 27, 2011 10:48 am

      Lol, it was my pleasure.

  2. March 27, 2011 10:52 am

    Thanks for the link my friend. You have some good ones this week.


    • March 27, 2011 11:01 am

      You are most welcome and thank you. =)

  3. March 27, 2011 11:45 am

    Apache? I s that a politically correct name for a killing machine? LOL. Thanks so much for the link.

    • March 27, 2011 12:09 pm

      We honor all our helicopters with Native American names, which in reverse is an honor to those peeps as well – though I am sure some whiny bastards out there can find a reason to say its racist or something.

      My pleasure my friend. =)

  4. March 27, 2011 1:02 pm

    You are back in fine fiddle. Thanks for the link. Some great instruments of war we do have and a good reminder of our capabilities.

    • March 27, 2011 2:57 pm

      Thank you my friend, and it is my pleasure. =)

  5. March 27, 2011 1:13 pm

    Nice bio on the Apache. Sure puts one in the mood to go blow stuff up!

    Thanks for linking.

    • March 27, 2011 2:57 pm

      You have to be put in the mood?

      You are most welcome my friend. =)

  6. LD Jackson permalink
    March 27, 2011 2:04 pm

    Thanks for the link, Colin, and a great post on the Apache helicopters. You do a fine job at describing how these things work.

    • March 27, 2011 2:58 pm

      It was my pleasure my friend, and thank you for the kind words. =)

  7. March 27, 2011 5:46 pm

    Thanks for the linkage Mr. Fleece.

    • March 27, 2011 6:30 pm

      You are very welcome Steve. =)

  8. March 27, 2011 6:21 pm

    Thanks for the link!
    Years ago I worked for a company that worked on defense contracts. We built the shelters that controlled the Patriot missile system as well as the support systems for the Apache. (We built the shelters which housed the radio controls, but did not actually work on the controls themselves) and I used to have a picture that showed the Apache on the ground surrounded by all of the possible armament it could carry. I wish that I still had that picture, but I don’t know where it is.

    • JustFacts permalink
      March 27, 2011 6:29 pm

      I think this may be the picture you had.

      • March 27, 2011 6:31 pm

        Yeah, yours is a lot better, mine is sort of lame, lol.

    • March 27, 2011 6:29 pm

      You are most welcome.

      As far as building the shelters, that’s pretty cool. And for the pic, howabout this?

      Apache armament

  9. March 28, 2011 2:07 am

    Thanks for the link. An awesome machine. We must not have many of those in Afghanistan or that job would have been done years ago.

    • March 28, 2011 4:30 am

      My pleasure. =)

      I am not sure how much air assets we have there, though I am sure we do. In Bosnia, we had quite a few Apaches with us, but that was a different Army, we rolled strong back in the day.

  10. March 28, 2011 2:08 am

    Thx for the link, Fleece. Opening Day on Friday, possible snow in Philly. May that friggin’ Al Gore choke on an icicle.

    • March 28, 2011 4:31 am

      You are most welcome. =)

      Snow on opening day? That is just wrong. =(

  11. March 28, 2011 7:29 am

    Thank you for the link. I appreciate it.

    PS: Sorry to be late getting to this post. Busy day on the “home front” yesterday — Mr. AOW’s therapist and bath day.

    • March 28, 2011 7:49 am

      No worries, and you are most welcome. =)

  12. KingShamus permalink
    March 28, 2011 8:53 am

    Thank you for including me in this post, Fleece.

    I appreciate it very much.

    • March 28, 2011 11:17 am

      The pleasure is all mine my friend. =)

  13. March 28, 2011 1:34 pm

    Total awesomeness on the Apache article, Fleece! I have always been a fan of the Apache so this was one of the most fun reads I’ve had in a long time… glad you came back with a flourish!

    Thanks for including Questioning…! I just got the motivation back that has been languishing for 3 days now.

    • March 28, 2011 4:15 pm

      I appreciate your kind words about my words. =)

      And I am glad you came back – I definitely know what it is like to struggle with motivation. We all need each other now more than ever, so, including you on my Fave’s list is totally and completely my pleasure. =)

  14. March 29, 2011 10:55 am

    Thanks for the link Colin. I haven’t been on these last few days because I’ve been on the road traveling back to PA to help my mother. I will post something soon…hopefully.

    • March 29, 2011 11:56 am

      No problems my friend, and you are most welcome. =)

      Safe travels.


  1. Fleece’s Faves – Apache edition |

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