The Apache was developed by McDonnell Douglas to meet a U.S. army requirement for a day/night all weather anti armor ground support attack aircraft with a high potential for survival in the battlefield. The first flight took place on September 30, 1975, with production deliveries to the U.S. Army starting on January 1984. Taking a major part in the Gulf War, it has also been used in Panama, Somalia and other theaters of operation.
Israeli involvement with the Apache started as far back as June 1983 when a prototype visited Israel for both testing the helicopter's performance in desert conditions and for flight testing by Israeli pilots, testing which resulted in a recommendation to purchase the type to bolster the IAF's anti-tank capabilities. The first helicopters arrived on September 11, 1990, Israel being the first country outside the U.S. to operate the type. The delivery actually took place ahead of the expected date as the first export customer was Kuwait, but that order was delayed when Iraq invaded on August 1990. Having arrived a day before the planned welcoming ceremony the first two examples were assembled in a record 11 hours, half the time recommended by McDonnell Douglas.
Quickly put into active service, the Apache soon saw combat in Lebanon with its first attack against suspected terrorist locations on October 24. It has since taken part in a great number of such operations, most notably operation Accountability during July 1993 and operation Grapes of Wrath during May 1996. There are two AH-64 squadrons in the IAF today with more than 40 examples of the type in service, some given to Israel by the U.S. from surplus U.S. Army examples.
Specification: McDonnell Douglas AH-64A Apache
Sources: IAF Inventory