South Korea-based unit gets high-tech helicopter upgrade
Stars and Stripes June 9, 2003
TAEGU, South Korea — The U.S. Army in South Korea is “one step closer” to equipping its attack helicopter fleet with the Apache helicopter’s newest, most lethal variant, according to military officials.
Seventeen AH-64A Apache helicopters — which were converted to the state-of-the-art D-model “Longbow” — arrived in South Korea earlier this week aboard the MV Green Point at the Army’s Pier 8 in Pusan.
The arrival means two of the three attack helicopter units in South Korea are equipped with the Longbow and its special high-tech radar package.
After reassembly and brief test flights at the pier, the Longbows were to make the two-hour flight north to Camp Humphreys for the 3rd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Brigade.
The squadron’s soldiers returned to South Korea last month after a year of training at Fort Hood, Texas, where they learned to fly and maintain the Longbow.
Designated units turn in Alpha-model Apaches for upgrading. They then travel as a unit to Fort Hood’s training facility, said Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, 8th Army spokesman.
“Toward the very end they go through a very rigorous and demanding evaluation and are then certified,” he said.
He said the 1st Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division had already gone through the upgrade. The 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry is the only unit in South Korea still using the Alpha model.
The upgrades are part of an Army-wide modernization effort called the Apache Longbow Fielding Program.
The Delta-model Apache features not only the Longbow radar and related gear, but also a “glass cockpit” — a control panel with a digital display screen on which aircrews can see crucial battle information quickly. Longbows also are armed with the Hellfire missile, 2.75 inch aerial rockets and a 30 mm cannon.
The high-tech features allow the two-member Apache crew to “see” enemy tanks and other battlefield threats they might not otherwise be able to spot with the unaided eye.
“Having the ‘glass cockpit,’ — the displays we have in front of us — allows us to view the battlefield from a perspective other than just a blind eye,” said Chief Warrant Officer Frank Turinsky of Troop C, 3rd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Brigade.
“We’re able to see the fluid motion of the battlefield, and we’re able to get a better sense of the current situation, and therefore take action,” Turinsky said.
The flights to Camp Humphreys were to begin Friday and continue through Sunday, said Mark Rice, interim operations chief with the Army’s 837th Transportation Battalion at Pier 8. Some 144 troops from U.S. and South Korean units worked at Pier 8 on preparing the Longbows and related equipment for transit to Camp Humphreys.