New attack helicopters of the Americans will be a serious problem for their enemies
PANAGYURISHTE, (BM) – The AH-64 Apache helicopter is one of the most iconic and effective combat vehicles of recent decades. It is capable of recording the thermal signature of a target at a distance of several kilometers. The vehicle can float below rooftops and fire rocket fire by briefly appearing above them.
Its armament hits helicopters, drones, airplanes, ground targets and enemy troop concentrations. “Apache” is very tenacious, but age, however, takes its toll. The combat vehicle, the development of which began almost fifty years ago, is becoming obsolete.
The US Army is looking for a replacement and hopes to get it as part of the Advanced Reconnaissance and Attack Helicopter (FARA) program
Many of the technical characteristics stated by the customer for this helicopter are classified. It is known, however, that it must be very fast and surpass the same “Apache” in this respect.
If the latter’s speed is 302 km / h, then for the new car this parameter will be 370 km / h, which is very close to the limit for rotary-wing aircraft. It is also clear that this will be an open architecture design. This is a mandatory requirement for all new equipment acquired by the Pentagon, from aircraft carriers such as Gerald R. Ford to F-35 fighter-bombers and Virginia-class submarines.
The open architecture makes it possible to develop and easily integrate various units and weapon installations into existing structures. You need to know that the lack of such an opportunity was a huge problem until the nineties of the last century. Technologies then developed so rapidly that by the time the “new” weapons passed the final tests, many of their components were hopelessly outdated.
Be that as it may, new systems will be installed on the replacement “Apache” as they appear, and among them there will certainly be a place for energy weapons, for example, lasers. Therefore, it can be assumed that the new helicopter will have a much more powerful power source.
As already mentioned, the combat vehicle must reach speeds of up to 370 km / h. This is really very close to the limit possible for a single rotor layout. To solve this problem, Lockheed and Boeing tested a rear rotor design at the tip of the tail.
It provides extra traction for increased speed. Destruction or damage to this propeller will not affect the stability of the helicopter. Currently, it is believed that Lockheed has some advantage over competitors, as it has been testing a prototype called “Raider X” for several years.
This machine certainly looks revolutionary – at least for the American helicopter industry. In addition to the rear propeller, it uses a coaxial two-rotor layout. This mechanic was used for about 70 years, first in the USSR, and then in Russia. It improves maneuverability, provides stability in flight and is less noisy.
It is also expected that stealth technology will be used to some extent in the design of the new US Army attack helicopter, although, of course, it cannot provide complete invisibility for this type of aircraft. Nevertheless, the use of radio-absorbing materials will make it difficult for enemy radars to detect the vehicle and increase its survivability.
In addition, in order to reduce visibility, it will probably be possible to place all weapons inside the helicopter body. A similar solution has been implemented on the F-22 Raptor fighter and the F-35 Molniya II fighter-bomber, although there it limits the overall carrying capacity, which is considered a serious drawback.
Apparently, the new attack helicopter will be equipped with a 30-mm M230 automatic aircraft cannon, which it will inherit from its predecessor, the Apache. Also on it will find a place for the AGM-114 “Hellfire” missile and the APKWS II control system, which turns unguided 70-mm missiles into high-precision weapons guided by a helicopter’s laser targeting system or third-party allied platforms.
Fighting enemy helicopters and fighters will most likely be AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. Also in service with the vehicle will be anti-radar missiles AGM-122 “Sidearm”, which can hit enemy air defense systems.
The new helicopter will surely take on board high-energy lasers, successfully tested on the Apaches. These weapons can destroy UAVs at a distance of up to 10 kilometers. These systems seem to be almost the main weapon of the machine, given the role that unmanned aerial vehicles, including kamikaze drones, have begun to play in armed conflicts.
Lasers could also be used to protect against anti-aircraft missiles. It is assumed that the Apache replacement will not only fight the UAV, but also interact with them. The concept is to fly together with these aircraft, and use them in combat combat by a helicopter pilot against enemy ground positions or to protect against approaching missiles.
When will this hypothetical marvel of technology begin to come into service? According to all forecasts, not before 2030. Or even later, if in the process of development there are difficulties that military designers are the rule rather than the unfortunate exception.
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