First UK Built WAH-64 Apache Makes Maiden Flight

The maiden flight of the first production Apache built by GKN Westland Helicopters at its Yeovil facility was achieved on July 18, 2000

The maiden flight of the first production Apache built by GKN Westland Helicopters at its Yeovil facility was achieved on July 18, 2000

GKN-Westland, July 19, 2000 - Yeovil, UK - Contrary to recent erroneous claims made by two UK Sunday national newspapers, the WAH-64 Apache is not grounded and a significant milestone was achieved yesterday with the maiden flight of the first production Apache built by GKN Westland Helicopters at its Yeovil facility.

The aircraft, ZJ172, is one of 67 ordered by the Ministry of Defence for the British Army Air Corps.

Captained by GKN Westland test pilot Richard Morton, with Boeing production test pilot, Walt Jones, also on board, the aircraft completed the initial Production Acceptance Test Flight (PATF) which included aircraft systems checks, main rotor track and balance procedures and basic handling manoeuvres. During an 18 minute flight, no problems were encountered and the aircraft achieved 140 knots.

Speaking after the flight, Richard Morton said: "This was a very special initial flight as it was completed in the first GKN Westland Apache to be built here at Yeovil. The aircraft performed as expected and the many people involved in this programme should take credit for this achievement."

Apache Programme Director, Martin Fausset, said the maiden flight was another example of the aircraft's successful performance. "This maiden flight was yet another success for this programme which serves as a timely reminder that this complex and challenging contract is both on schedule and on budget. Although the WAH-64 is based on the US Army D model Apache, the UK variant has been specifically designed to suit the UK requirement and is therefore very different in configuration. There is no doubt that the Ministry of Defence will have a world-class capability with this helicopter."

The first WAH-64 Apache was handed over to the British Army in March 2000 and was one of eight UK Apaches built by Boeing at their Mesa, Arizona facility and shipped to the UK for final assembly and test. Two of these aircraft have already been delivered to the British Army. With GKN Westland's own Apache line now ramping up production, the remaining WAH-64 aircraft are being delivered to Yeovil as part fuselages for completion, final inspection and test by GKN Westland Helicopters.

The Apache project was one of the first to form an Integrated Project Team, a key element of the MoD's Smart Procurement initiative, in November 1998. The 70-strong team is based in the UK's Defence Procurement Agency at Abbey Wood, Bristol. It also includes representatives from the Defence Logistics Organisation based at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton and GKN Westland in Yeovil.

The WAH-64 Apache will be the cornerstone of the Armed Forces' new Joint Helicopter Command which will be responsible for 16 Air Assault Brigade. Created as part of the Strategic Defence Review, the Joint Helicopter Command will focus the joint capabilities of the three Services and enhance the operational effectiveness of the battlefield helicopter.

Apache's in-service date, which is defined as the delivery of the first nine aircraft, is scheduled for December 2000. Apache will greatly augment the operational effectiveness of the British Army on the battlefield. It will provide a massive increase in capability both in terms of firepower, communications and supportability.

In 1996, GKN Westland Helicopters, as prime contractor, was awarded a contract valued at more than £2 billion ($3.2 billion) to supply 67 WAH-64 Apache attack helicopters to the British Army Air Corps. Contract completion is scheduled for end 2003.
WAH#1 is undergoing general qualification testing in Mesa, Arizona. WAH#2 and WAH#4 are being prepared for delivery in Summer 2000. WAH#3 was delivered in June 2000. WAH#5 is in the USA undergoing Helicopter Integrated Defensive Aids Suite (HIDAS) trials. WAH#6 was handed over on March 15 2000. WAH#7, the first UK produced Apache, will now be prepared for delivery in Summer 2000. WAH#8 is undertaking general trials in addition to conducting pilot training. WAH#9, #11 and #12 are in various stages of build at Yeovil. WAH#10 was delivered in June.

Aviation Training International Limited (ATIL), a joint venture company of GKN Westland Helicopters and Boeing, based at its UK Headquarters in Sherborne, was contracted in 1998 to provide the training service for the British Apaches under the UK Government=s public/private partnership arrangement. The customer pays by the hour for training received at the Middle Wallop, Wattisham and Dishforth flight training facilities and at the Arborfield and Middle Wallop technical training centres. All equipment, buildings, courseware and staff are owned and financed by ATIL with no customer capital investment involved.

WAH-64 Apache is a derivative of the US Army's AH-64D Apache Longbow, the next generation version of the combat proven AH-64A Apache, the aircraft which is in service with many defence forces around the world. In addition to the RTM322 engines, WAH-64 includes a number of systems unique to the UK. These, plus the enhancements incorporated in the AH-64D, make it more effective in combat, and more survivable, deployable and maintainable in the field than the AH-64A.

The Apache Longbow fire control radar and advanced avionics suite give pilots the ability to rapidly detect, classify, prioritise and engage stationary and moving targets at stand-off ranges in near all-weather environments. Its ability to communicate digitally with other aircraft and ground forces gives the WAH-64 significant advantage over current combat helicopters.

Aircraft mentioned in this article :
Westland WAH-64 Apache ZJ172     ( Army Air Corps )

This article is listed in :
Westland WAH-64 Apache
UK Yeovil



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