Arizona Apache: Wired
It is my first time visiting the Boeing team at Mesa, Arizona and one of my first impressions is quite naturally the impact of the heat and the dry, desert conditions.
The sand and dust have given me a real taste of the AH-64‘s combat readiness for those overseas deployments, with particular regards to the US Army stationing in Afghanistan and Kuwait.
And as a participant in the overhead demonstration, I was able to see first-hand the hover capabilities; the composite main rotor blades, according to company literature, provide greater hover out of ground effect capability.
Walking into the production facility at Mesa, we were greeted firstly by the skeletal airframes evolving into a completed E-model of the AH-64.
Since the beginning of the Apache with the A-model, Boeing has been manufacturing the aircraft for more than three decades.
Interestingly, there was two different versions on display and they were easily distinguished by two designation types.
The new build aircraft are labelled as AK – these are completely new models with new components. On the other side, the aircraft labelled as NM are new but with 700 reused reports.
Currently, the facility builds five Apaches per month, once they have been received from Boeing’s Alabama plant in Huntsville.
From the work in Alabama to the end of the line in Arizona, the whole aircraft process can take up to one year.
The hangar also has an assembly line dedicated to the AH-6i.
Looking at the interior of one AH-64 E-model, it is hard not to notice the orange wiring present on the aircraft. This is a form of wire protection to ensure no foreign objects interact with the goods.
One of the differences between the D and E model of the Apache is the number of wires.
Significantly, the D-model had 11 eleven miles of wiring, although the E-model has now been reduced to nine miles.
Splice junctions are no longer being used by the Boeing manufacturing team, and this helps with installation as well as during missions because it is easier to remedy in the field through point-to-point connections.
Speaking of wired, it would not be a Boeing pre-Farnborough press trip without copious amounts of coffee, early morning wake-up calls and lots of things to see and do. So, onwards to Florida – the Poseidon awaits.