Boeing has revealed it is working on an advanced development of its AH-64 Apache helicopter with stub wings and a compound ‘pusher’ tail rotor. An image of a one-third scale wing tunnel model was revealed in Twitter (above).
The concept has emerged amid ongoing delays to the US Army’s Future Vertical Lift plan and a requirement to keep the AH-64 capable well into the 2030s and possibly beyond.
Dubbed the AH-64E Block 2 Compound, the development features enlarged and permanently attached wings, a new engine exhaust arrangement, a larger vertical tail fin, and a rear-mounted ‘pusher’ propeller, all of which are designed to give the Apache greater speed and range compared to conventional models.
According to Jane’s, Boeing estimates the development will provide 50 per cent more speed than the current 170kts. Testing of the wind tunnel model is expected to be completed by January 2019.
The US Army currently has about 240 AH-64E Apache Guardians and more than 500 AH-64D Longbows in service, and has a requirement for additional Guardians.
If the concept testing is successful, Boeing is expected to pitch the Compound development as an alternative to more radical designs such as Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider or a gunship version of the SB-1 Defiant which Boeing is co-developing with Sikorsky.