Apache Helicopter Crews Practise Skills Ahead Of Upgrade

Regulars and reservists from the Army Air Corps have been sharpening their skills ahead of receiving the new AH-64 E Apache later this year.

Apache pilots and ground crew are back training following a pause during the coronavirus pandemic ahead of a major upgrade of the UK's attack helicopters.

As part of Exercise Talon Hydra at STANTA (Stanford Training Area) in Norfolk, personnel from 3 Regiment Army Air Corps and reservist units have been sharpening their skills in Forward Arming and Refuelling.

It is the last push of training with the current model of the helicopter as the new, "state-of-the-art" AH-64E Apaches are set to be introduced later this year.

Lieutenant Colonel Nick English, Commanding Officer of 3 Regiment Army Air Corps - the first regiment that will receive the upgraded helicopters - said: "The new ones they look like an Apache, they smell like an Apache, they fly like an Apache – but under the hood they are state-of-the-art, brand new off the production line.

"It’s a huge jump in what we can do. 

"Our air crew and our engineers are going to be going to the US and they’ll be trained on the US platforms then they’ll come back here and we’ve got to put the whole jigsaw back together again."

Before that change, Exercise Talon Hydra has provided personnel with the chance to get back to grips with the seven-and-a-half-tonne Apache.

Personnel practised refuelling the helicopters, as well as handling its weapons during the exercise.

For many reservists from 6 Regiment Army Air Corps, the exercise is the first time some of them have been able to put their skills into action alongside regulars.

Air Trooper Paul Roberts, a reservist from 678 Squadron, said: "It’s quite intimidating when you look up and there’s this great big Apache coming straight for you. 

"The downwash from the rotors is quite something but once it lands on, it's just straight into the training and do what you're train to do."

He added: "Because I left it too late to join the Army as a pilot, working as a ground crew member and just getting to get hands on and work with the Apache is just fantastic. It’s just an absolute dream machine."

3 Regiment Army Air Corps is expected to receive the new AH-64E Apaches as early as November.