AH-64D Longbow Block II / Extended Block II (lots 7-13)
Starting with Lot 7, and continuing through the remainder of the 501 planned conversions, AH-64Ds are being delivered to the service in an Apache Extended Block II (EB2) configuration. Block II includes new avionics, digital enhancements, and communications upgrades. Among the systems added are a digital map, a high-frequency radio, and JVMF messaging. The initial Block II aircraft was delivered to the Army in February 2003.
The 18 October 95 Acquisition Decision Memorandum authorized Longbow Apache to proceed into production and award of single year contract not to exceed quantity of 18 aircraft in FY96. A Multi-Year II Contract (FY01-FY05) was signed on 29 September 2000. In November 2000 McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems, Mesa, Arizona, was awarded a $412,140,391 modification to firm-fixed-price multi-year contract DAAH23-00-C-0001, for the AH-64D Apache Longbow program. This obligation was for Lot 6 for 52 AH-64D Apache Longbows and long lead advance procurement for Lot 7 of the AH-64D Apache Longbow program.
Funding for the AH-64 Extended Block II Upgrade supports the revised Modernized Strategy for the Apache Helicopter which was approved by the VCSA 1 Nov 2004. The plan allows for the remanufacture of an additional 120 AH-64A aircraft to the AH-64D (Lots 11-14) configuration. The schedule generates greater attack helicopter combat power for the Warfight sooner and accelerates Reserve Component modernization by cascading Longbow Block I aircraft directly to USAR and ARNG Apache battalions. By modernizing additional AH-64As, the Army is acknowledging concerns of OSD and Congress by mapping out a strategy for the entire Apache fleet. Other Support procures TDA Salaries, In-house Matrix and Contractor Support for Apache Project Manager's Office. Long lead procurement is identified in P-10 exhibits. Procurement is thru a single year FFP contract, FY 07, with options FY08-FY10.
By early 2001 the Army had completed the first design review of the Lot 7 Longbows. Lot 7 aircraft would have a much greater processing capability and, with the introduction of the fiber channel data bus, would enable significant growth in the future.
On 3 April 2002, the US Army accepted two milestone AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters in a ceremony held at Boeing in Mesa, Arizona. The ceremony, attended by US Army, industry and government officials, included delivery of the final Apache Longbow from the first five-year, multi-year production effort, known as multi-year I, and the first Apache Longbow for the Army's newest production effort, known as multi-year II. The aircraft were the 232nd and 233rd Apache Longbows to be delivered to the U.S. Army. Multi-year II, which was slated to provide 269 Apache Longbows for the Army through 2006, was signed in September 2000. Multi-year I, which provided 232 Apache Longbows to the Army, authorized production of the next-generation Apache in 1995. In all, as of 2002, the Army had ordered 501 Apache Longbows for its 21st century combat needs.
Testing on the IAFS was completed during FY03. Concerns with the accuracy and adequacy of the performance tables found in the operator's manual for the AH-64D prompted the initiation of Airworthiness and Flight Characteristics (A&FC) testing of the AH-64D Longbow Apache in February 2002. A&FC testing continued and required approximately 300 flight hours to complete. The Army anticipated completion of this testing in early FY04. The Army Aviation Technical Test Center would test handling qualities and the latest software releases for the Embedded Global Positioning System Inertial Navigation System and the Flight Management Computer.
The Army planned to complete Lot 7 Preliminary Airworthiness Evaluation (PAE) early in FY04. The PAE consists of flight-handling qualities verification, crew workload assessment, crew interface evaluation, and verification of avionics system functionality associated with new and legacy capabilities.
The only remaining LFT&E item for the Longbow Apache concerned the engine fire and detection and suppression system (FDSS) test. The FDSS test, required by the Apache Longbow Test and Evaluation Master Plan, was deferred so that it might be conducted with the Army Aviation Halon replacement. However, since a suitable drop-in halon replacement was not forthcoming, the Program Management Office was in the process of planning to conduct this test with the existing Halon 1301 system. The Army intended to use a fully operational representative, but not flightworthy, aircraft as the ground test article to conduct this series of tests in second quarter FY04.
The Army conducted ten HELLFIRE missile flight tests in FY03 to support the HOJ/AJ software regression testing and determine its effectiveness in countermeasure environments. Analysis of this testing was ongoing with results expected during second quarter FY04. For the CAPS upgrade, pre-qualification testing was conducted in FY03 to address the randome design, antenna design, effective radiated power, guidance section performance, and radar cross-section. Because the CAPS was added to the exterior of the existing missile, aerodynamic impacts of the upgrade are being studied. Sub-scale wind tunnel testing was proposed for FY04.
The Army found the IAFS effective and suitable and fielded the subsystem. This addition/modification to the aircraft provided the units in the field with an aircraft that had an extended range capability with a fuel system that is crashworthy and ballistically tolerant. This was a much-needed improvement in the system, even though the 30 millimeter round carrying capability is reduced from 1,200 rounds to 300 rounds due to the modification.
As expected, the A&FC aircraft testing confirmed that the published performance charts for the AH-64D needed refinement, but the magnitude and extent of the changes was not easy to determine. Early results of ongoing software regression testing showed no significant anomalies.
The Lot 7 interoperability assessment confirmed the aircraft's ability to send/receive joint variable message format and tactical fire direction system messages. In-flight workload assessment surveys and low airspeed testing were completed. Testing of the final software configuration was completed and a safety confirmation recommendation was forwarded to the Army Developmental Test Command for approval.
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