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Boeing flies AH-64E Apache v6.5 for first time

Boeing AH-64E v6.5 first flight. (Boeing)

Boeing has flown the latest version of the AH-64E Apache attack helicopter, Version 6.5, the company announced on 11 October. The flight took place at Boeing's Mesa, Arizona, factory.

“Subsequent to the first test flight, we'll be looking at software baseline verification testing,” Christina Upah, Boeing's vice-president of attack helicopter programmes, told Janes on 9 October ahead of the flight. “Essentially, we're taking the Version 6 software baseline, which was our common configuration, and adding additional capabilities to that software build. That opens up the aperture for open-systems interface, as well as enhanced sensors [and] enhanced mission systems.”

Improved systems on the v6.5 include upgraded Link 16 data sharing for manned-unmanned teaming, the integration of an interface to enable modular open systems architecture (MOSA), improvements to the crew's situational awareness, and a strengthened drivetrain and other equipment to replace the current General Electric T700 engines with General Electric T901 Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP) engines.

The US Army contracted Boeing to implement the upgrades in December 2021, but has not yet decided when they will be ‘cut in' to ongoing AH-64E production to replace the current v6 standard.

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