Despite its power, some opinions say that the American-made AH-64 Apache has an unattractive appearance.
Photos published by Taiwan’s Youth Daily News for the first time show at least two AH-64E Apaches of the Taiwan Self-Defense Force (ROCA) painted in the image of tiger sharks.
The helicopter’s fuselage is painted with monstrous teeth and shining eyes. On one side, those teeth are chewing on a tank waving a white flag. Attention comes from the iconic eye of the Taiwanese AH-64E Apache crew. Two AH-64Es painted with serial numbers 811 and 824 appeared at an open event at the air base in Hsinshe. Hsinshe Air Base is located on the west coast of Taiwan island.
Taiwan purchased 30 attack helicopters of the latest AH-64E version under a $1.91 billion contract in 2011 with the US. Deliveries began a year later and the fleet is now down to 29 aircraft following a 2014 accident. Taiwan’s AH-64E attack helicopters are based at Longtan base in the north of the island. High maneuverability, modern electronic systems, large arsenal of destructive weapons, and extensive real combat experience, the AH-64 Apache surpasses other competitors in the world to become the most feared tank destroyer on the planet.
In fact, verified through the battles this helicopter participated in, the AH-64 Apache has destroyed hundreds of enemy tanks. Developed by the US to replace the Bell AH-1 Cobra helicopter. The AH-64 had its first flight in 1975, but it was more than 10 years later that they were officially put into service. Apache has a crew of 2, the front pilot controls the aircraft, the rear pilot is in charge of firepower. In an emergency, both pilots can control the aircraft and firepower.
Apache has a length of 17.7m, rotor diameter of 16.4m, and height of 4.6m. Empty weight is 5.1 tons, and maximum take-off weight is 9.5 tons. The AH-64 has 2 extra wings on both sides with 2 weapon hard points, each wing can carry 16 AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missiles. In addition, they also carry Hydra 70mm unguided rocket launchers and AIM-92 Stinger low-altitude air-to-air missiles. Under the belly of the helicopter is equipped with an M230 30mm automatic cannon with a 1,200 rounds.
The M230 automatic cannon has a fire rate of 625 rounds/minute, they can fire armor-piercing rounds to destroy light armor. Not to mention, the AH-64 Apache also has a system compatible with the target indicator device on the pilot’s helmet and the M230 cannon.
The AH-64 is equipped with the TADS (AN/ASQ-170) target seeker and designator, which includes the AN/APG-78 radar and other advanced electronic components. The AN/APG-78 fire control radar placed on top of the rotor can simultaneously track 128 targets and attack 16 of the most dangerous targets. This system also includes a television optical camera, FLIR infrared target search and designation system and laser rangefinder system.
For maneuverability, the AH-64 is equipped with two T700-GE-701D turboshaft engines with 2,000 horsepower each. The helicopter can reach a maximum speed of 293 km/h, cruise speed of 265 km/h. Combat radius is 480km, maximum operating range is 1,900 km, flight ceiling is up to 6,400 m.
The AH-64 Apache first participated in combat in 1989 in the Panama battlefield. After that, they continued to participate in wars involving the United States. Most significant was the 1991 Gulf War, where the AH-64 Apache destroyed hundreds of Iraqi tanks. It was after this war that the AH-64 Apache was nicknamed the “tank killer”.
Currently, the US continues to upgrade this helicopter line to the D and E variants with improved engines, electronic systems and rotor systems. These improvements help the AH-64 Apache helicopter still meet the requirements of supporting infantry and destroying ground targets in modern warfare. Besides the US, there are 16 countries and territories that operate this line of helicopters, considered the most fearsome in the world.