Apache Guardian's Dutch Debut

Text and photography by Frank Mink and Patrick Dirksen of Tristar Aviation
On March 14, 2024, the first Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian was delivered to 301 Squadron at Gilze Rijen Air Force Base in The Netherlands. This is the first of twenty Apaches that 301 Squadron is planned to receive.
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The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) has ordered 28 AH-64E Apaches, of which the first six, serials Q-31 to Q-36, have already been delivered to 302 Squadron. This squadron is based at Fort Cavazos in Texas, USA, where they use these Apaches for training pilots and technicians. The newly delivered AH-64E with serial Q-37 is, therefore, the first one to be operated in The Netherlands.

In December 2023, the first AH-64Es for 301 Squadron were airlifted to Europe from the USA by C-17s of the USAF. They were delivered to Woensdrecht Air Force Base where they are being checked, reassembled, made ready to fly, and test-flown before delivery to their future home base. This work is being performed by the Logistiek Centrum Woensdrecht (LCW, RNLAF Logistics Centre).
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The Dutch AH-64Es are based on a newly build airframe with both new and overhauled parts of former RNLAF AH-64DN’s that were decommissioned earlier. These old Apache’s were transported by ship from the LCW to Boeing at Mesa Field, USA. Amongst others new higher power engines, new gearboxes and new rotor blades have been installed. Inside the cockpit the old AH-64DN monochrome displays have been replaced by colour displays that give a better depth perception for the crew.
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The Dutch AH-64Es are based on a newly built airframe with both new and overhauled parts from former RNLAF AH-64DNs that were decommissioned earlier. These old Apaches were transported by ship from the LCW to Boeing at Mesa Field, USA. Among other things, new higher-power engines, new gearboxes, and new rotor blades have been installed. Inside the cockpit, the old AH-64DN monochrome displays have been replaced by colour displays that provide a better depth perception for the crew.

Apart from these changes, two major improvements over the old RNLAF AH-64DN are the FCR (Fire Control Radar) and the Link 16 capability. The Dutch air force will receive ten FCRs, which will significantly improve the crew's search capability. The FCR is housed in a radome on top of the main rotor. The Link 16 system will enable the Apache to share and receive real-time information with other platforms during a mission.

With this new AH-64E, 301 Squadron have taken a step into the future.