An Apache helicopter is a military helicopter designed for use by the United States Army. In addition to being used by the American military, this design is also utilized by several other militaries, including those of Greece, Israel, and the Netherlands. The Apache design is revolutionary in the world of military helicopters, as the helicopter essentially acts as an airborne tank, with heavy weapons systems which are capable of targeting heavily-armored ground targets. The Apache helicopter is also one tough bird: it's extremely difficult to bring down an Apache.
The design for the Apache was developed by Hughes Helicopters in the 1980s. The AH-64 Apache, as it is formally known, is manufactured by Boeing Aircraft. The helicopter's name reflects a longstanding military tradition of referencing Native American culture in the names for military helicopter, and “Apache” is an apt name for this aircraft, as this Native American tribe is famed for its militant nature and skilled performance in war.
This helicopter is designed for offensive attack, and it can provide air support to the Army on the ground, or actively seek out and eliminate targets, depending on the mission. Each Apache helicopter has two cockpits, with a complete set of controls for both a pilot and a gunner in each cockpit. Under normal conditions, the gunner sits in the forward cockpit and the pilot sits in the back, but either officer can take over in the event that one is disabled.
Apaches have a twin engine design which keeps the helicopter flying in the event of engine trouble, and the aircraft are also heavily armored to resist gunfire from the ground or from other aircraft. The primary weapons system is a nose-mounted chain gun, but the Apache helicopter can also be outfitted with missiles for specific missions.
In addition to carrying an array of offensive equipment, the Apache helicopter also has some useful defensive equipment, including very sophisticated sensor systems on the Apache Longbow, the latest iteration of the design as of 2009. The helicopter can also be utilized in electronic warfare, and it works in an array of conditions, including bad weather and nighttime flying.
Like other military aircraft, the Apache helicopter is constantly being refined to address specific issues which arise in the field. Periodically, upgrades to existing helicopters are released, and the design is occasionally overhauled to produce an entirely new model. Customers can also request specific modifications from Boeing, for an extra fee, of course.