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Apaches practise rare Arctic long-range ‘deep' attack

The US Army wants to add more robust cold weather survival equipment such as tents to the survival pod on its AH-64 Apache and other helicopters. (Janes/Meredith Roaten)

In the High North, fast winds can steer rotor blades while icy precipitation can reduce visibility. This makes it difficult to perform the 150 miles deep attack with Apache AH-64 helicopters at the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center (JPMRC) 24-02 training rotation held from 12 to 22 February at Fort Greely, Alaska, Major General Brian Eifler, commander of the 11th Airborne Division, told Janes .

For this scale and range – a battalion's worth of Apaches across 150 miles – the army usually practises virtual deep attacks because of the strain on resources and lack of space, Maj Gen Eifler said in an interview on 21 February. However, it's the kind of event that needs to be practised more often as the United States faces not having the air superiority it had in previous theatres such as Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.

Apaches can't just fly straight to their attack location, he added. “They have to avoid air defence, electronic warfare jamming … so they have to penetrate, so they have to fly really low and they go long distances through a finite corridor that's really open for a short period of time.”

To simulate that reality, air-defence emitters were placed along the route for pilots to avoid. The aircraft had to hit their targets at a certain time and then retrograde back, Maj Gen Eifler said.

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