The British Army has received its first two new Apache Attack Helicopters from the US government.
The new AH-64Es are the most advanced variant of Apache and will replace the Apache AH Mark 1, which reaches its out of service date in 2024.
The aircraft arrived at Wattisham Flying Station in Suffolk on Thursday.
The Boeing-built aircraft are already in service with the US Army and other defence forces, with the first UK flying anticipated to take place in July 2021.
Initially, these flights will focus on trials activity and developing instructional techniques to safely manage aircrew transition from the Mark 1 to E-model.
The Army said the focus will then change to the full rate conversion training of 3 Regiment Army Air Corps.
The new helicopters look set to significantly enhance the UK’s first Aviation Brigade with new engines, drivetrain, main rotor blades and avionics delivering a significant boost in aircraft performance.
Embedded system-level diagnostics will increase aircraft availability, while extended range fire control radar with maritime mode will ensure the aircraft can also operate in the maritime environment.
Brigadier Paul Tedman CBE, Commander of 1 Aviation Brigade, said: "I’m delighted to see the first AH-64E arrive in the UK. It’s a significant waypoint on our journey to a modernised Apache capability.
"As the Aviation Brigade grows towards its own full operating capability in 2023, AH-64E will team with Wildcat and provide the backbone of its capability.
"The next few years represent hugely exciting times for the Joint Helicopter Command and the Brigade."
Cover image: One of the Apaches is unloaded from an aircraft at Wattisham Flying Station in Suffolk (Picture: British Army).