UK AAC AH 64E Apache 640First flight AAC AH-64E

The first flight of a new Army Air Corps (AAC) AH-64E Apache Guardian in UK skies finally took place on 2 December 2021. This is over a year after the first helicopter of this type was delivered to the United Kingdom.

During the very early hours (00:53 hrs LT) on 24 November 2020, C-17A Globemaster III ZZ177 landed at RAF Brize Norton. It carried the first two AH-64E Apache Guardians delivered to the United Kingdom. Both ZM704 and ZM705 were subsequently transported by road to Wattisham on 26 November 2020. To date fourteen AH-64Es have been delivered to Wattisham, but so far none of them was recorded flying.

This changed on 2 December 2021, when ZM705 took to the sky for a local test flight using call sign 'Gauntlet 064'. The call sign indicates that the aircraft was flown by test pilots from QinetiQ Boscombe Down.

The British military placed their first order for new the new Apache in June 2016. In total fifty of these new helicopters are purchased to replace the ageing Apache AH1 (AH-64D) currently in service. The helicopters have been allocated serial range ZM700 until ZM749 by the British military. A milestone was reached on 19 May 2020. On this date, the first AH-64E (ZM700) was flown from the Boeing facility at Mesa (AZ) to Redstone AAF (AL) by a joint Army Air Corps and US Army aircrew. At Redstone, the Apache underwent testing in cooperation with the US Army Aviation Flight Test Directorate (AFTD).

By end-November 2021, fourteen AH-64Es have already been delivered to Wattisham. The helicopter type is slated to be introduced into operational service in 2022, and all should be delivered by 2024.

Despite previous communications, the AAC has not adapted the designation Apache AH2, but seems to refer to them simply as AH-64E.

Photo by Royal Air Force

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