Equipment

Aircraft

Aircraft

The Army's aircraft enable our soldiers to carry out vital roles including reconnaissance missions and casualty evacuations, as well as troop transport and high-tech, anti-tank combat. The Apache attack helicopter is probably the most sophisticated piece of equipment in the world available to front-line troops.

AH-64E - Apache attack helicopter

Overview

Designed to find and destroy air defence units, tanks and armoured vehicles, the Apache attack helicopter has utility beyond its primary role, capable of a wide range of battlefield tasks that include Intelligence, Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR), Escort/Force Protection and Command and Control (C2). The Apache can operate in all weathers, day or night and has significantly enhanced the Army's Air Manoeuvre capability.

Using the distinctive Longbow radar located above the main rotor blades, the Apache can detect and classify up to 256 potential targets, display 128 of these to the crew and prioritise the top 16 threats, all in a matter of seconds. It carries a mix of weapons that include a 30mm chain gun, 70mm rockets and Hellfire missiles to provide choice for the commander and flexibility during the mission.

In addition to the Longbow radar, the aircraft is equipped with optical and thermal imaging sights that are used to visually identify potential targets and pilot the aircraft at night and in low visibility conditions. Range and endurance can be increased using wing-mounted fuel tanks to provide a more persistent presence across a wider area. To increase its survivability, the Apache is fitted with a state of the art, fully integrated Defensive Aid Suite to protect the aircraft and crew.

Specifications

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In service date

2022

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Maximum Speed

330 kph

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Engine

2 x 850shp Rolls Royce RTM-322

Specifications

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Maximum weight

7746 kg

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Crew

2

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Radius of Action

160 nm

Dimensions

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Length

17.57m

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Main rotor diameter

14.63m

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Height

4.9m

Armament

 

16 x Hellfire missiles

76 x Hydra 70 rockets

1,200 x 30mm cannon rounds

 

 

Wildcat Mk1

Overview

The Army Wildcat Mk1 helicopter will perform a range of tasks on the battlefield including reconnaissance, command and control, transportation of troops and material, and the provision of force protection. 

It is fitted with new Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Company (LHTEC) CTS800-4N engines, which are significantly more powerful than those in its predecessor, the Lynx, enabling it to operate in extreme conditions and at high altitudes.

The Wildcat is fitted with a nose mounted MX-15 Wescam Electro Optical Device (EOD) enabling it to detect targets by day and night at significant range.

The name

The name Wildcat recalls the name given to the Grumman F4F which was widely used during the Second World War. The aircraft ceased operational service in 1945 but some flying aircraft remain, including one in the collection of the Imperial War Museum Duxford.

Dimensions

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Length

15.24m

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Span

12.8m

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Maximum Altitude

12,000 ft

Specifications

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Engine

Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Company (LHTEC) CTS800-4N

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Maximum speed

291 kph

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Aircrew

3

Watchkeeper - Uncrewed Air System

Watchkeeper

Watchkeeper is an uncrewed aircraft system with a range of intelligence and reconnaissance cameras and sensors, including a state-of-the-art surveillance radar. It lets the Army see things up to 200km away and helps keep our troops safe. It gathers information, such as spotting enemy activity, during the day and at night. It is built in the UK, and has been used successfully in Afghanistan, where is played a crucial protective role for British troops. Since the first flight in 2010, Watchkeeper has accumulated over 3,000 flying hours

Its use

Watchkeeper is an intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) asset, that can collect, process and disseminate high quality imagery intelligence. This can be networked to senior commanders and analysts as well as streaming imagery and radar pictures to troops on the ground. It is a versatile aircraft which can be used in warfighting as well a wide range of other scenarios..

Watchkeeper it is an autonomous system that always requires a ‘human in the loop’ to authorise all aspect of its operations. It is built to operate in range of ground and air conditions and is equipped to support a wide range of military and security missions. The system has a range of sensors and infra-red full motion video cameras, able to operate at day and night. Identifying assets on the ground is a primary function of Watchkeeper and it is fitted with radar technology and a ground movement target indicator.

Within Watchkeeper’s laser sub-system are a separate target marker, designator, and range finder to assist in identifying different assets. The Watchkeeper system was built in the UK by Thales, with a UK supply chain supporting British manufacturing jobs.

The system has undergone rigorous flight testing in west Wales and is certified to operate safely in UK airspace. The 47th Regiment Royal Artillery based at Larkhill, Wiltshire is responsible for Watchkeeper, with troops from that regiment being trained in how to safely and effectively operate the system.  With Watchkeeper primarily operating in the land environment, it is the Army, rather than the RAF, who are responsible for operating the aircraft.

Key Specifications

Size: 6.5m long, 10.9m wingspan
Take-off weight: 485kg
Range from ground station: 150km
Cruise speed: 77Kts
Altitude: 16000ft
Aircraft endurance: 14 hours

Development

During the development of Watchkeeper, there were some incidents involving the system crashing in the UK. These incidents were all subject to inquiries, the full details of which can be accessed below:

WK050 - 13 June 2018
WK043 - 24 March 2017
WK042 - 3 February 2017
WK006 - 2 November 2015
WK031 - 16 October 2014

Gazelle

Overview

The Gazelle was first produced in 1968 under an Anglo-French agreement between Westlands and Aerospatiale.

The Gazelle, fondly referred to as the "whistling chicken leg", has proved an incredibly reliable observation and reconnaissance helicopter for many years.

Although, having only one engine, it is not as powerful as many others, but its lightweight chassis offsets any deficit it might have. Advantages include its small agile nature, and its unparalleled visibility from the cockpit.

Specifications

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Engine

1 x Turbomeca Astazou III N2 592 shp

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Max speed

311 kph

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Max mass

1900 kg

Dimensions

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Length

11.97m

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Main rotor diameter

10.5m

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Height

3.15 m

Bell 212

The Bell 212 is used by the Army Air Corps in the jungle areas of Brunei.

A winch on the side of the aircraft also enables medical evacuation in otherwise difficult terrain.

Consequently the Bell 212 is currently employed in predominantly jungle areas where its performance is a great advantage.

Airbus 135 'Juno'

The Juno is a helicopter produced by Airbus Helicopters and first entered service on 12 May 2017.

The modern aircraft is the training helicopter of choice for the tri-service Defence Helicopter Flying School based out of RAF Shawbury and first was used by students in 2018.

This twin-engine helicopter is the perfect platform for instructing all the different flying techniques required of new pilots.