Aircraft

This is the British Army's deadly new Apache attack helicopter making its debut in the field

The British Army's fearsome new Apache AH-64E - considered the world's most advanced attack helicopter - has made its first outing into the field.

Exercise Talon Guardian saw 3 Regiment Army Air Corps take a 1,500km road trip over two weeks, establishing itself at three separate locations to plan and execute attack missions and maintain the state-of-the-art helicopters. 

The helicopter is the latest model of the AH-64 which has long served the UK military including operations over Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The upgraded version looks similar to its Mark 1 predecessor and handles similarly too, despite having new blades and American engines.

Watch: In July, the Army's new Apache was declared operational.

3 Regt AAC's Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Simon Wilsey said: "Exercise Talon Guardian is a really significant step forward for the British Army's AH-64E, which is the most advanced attack helicopter in the world.

"We've been working hard to learn how to fly and maintain the AH-64E; now we're getting the aircraft out into the field, tackling the additional complexities of living, planning, maintaining and operating in an austere environment and developing how we fight with it."

He added: "As befits a new aircraft with vastly improved capabilities, we're not just going back to what we did before.

"We're beginning to use all the new systems and capabilities, and looking at the lessons of current conflicts, adapting to ensure our relevance and survivability. It is all about the basic field craft in the air and on the ground.

"So, for how we operate on the ground, it's dispersing and camouflaging our positions to prevent observation by drones and communicating by data and over long range; and aircrew must fly using natural cover and all the aircraft’s sensors to counter air defence systems and low-tech threats.

Watch: Why the new Apache matters.

"We've learned a lot and we'll continue to learn as we look to exploit the full capabilities of this awesome aircraft," 3 Regt AAC's Commanding Officer said.

The exercise saw 3 Regt AAC preparing for its core role, providing an aviation deep attack battlegroup, as part of 1st Aviation Brigade Combat Team, to 3rd (UK) Division, the Army's warfighting division.

In this role, the AH-64E will be a key element of how the Army fights in the coming decades, as set out in the Future Soldier programme.

"Like changing your mobile phone from a Nokia 3310 to an iPhone 14"

Apache pilot Captain 'H' said the switch to the AH-64E from the Apache Mk1 it replaces was "like changing your mobile phone from a Nokia 3310 to an iPhone 14".

"The aircraft may look the same from the outside, but everything's changed inside to bring improved capabilities in sensors, flying performance, weaponry and communications," he said.

"We're able to do our job so much better because the new aircraft means an expansion of the area over which we can deliver effect – whether that's detecting and engaging threats or sharing information with other aircraft or ground callsigns."