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How Apache Helicopters Work

        Science | Modern

Apache Evasion Tactics and Armor

The Apache's first line of defense against attack is keeping out of range. As we saw earlier, the helicopter is specifically designed to fly low to the ground, hiding behind cover whenever possible. The Apache is also designed to evade enemy radar scanning. If the pilots pick up radar signals with the onboard scanner, they can activate a radar jammer to confuse the enemy.

The Apache is also designed to evade heat-seeking missiles by reducing its infrared signature (the heat energy it releases). The Black Hole infrared suppression system dissipates the heat of the engine exhaust by mixing it with air flowing around the helicopter. The cooled exhaust then passes through a special filter, which absorbs more heat. The Longbow also has an infrared jammer, which generates infrared energy of varying frequencies to confuse heat-seeking missiles.

The Apache is heavily armored on all sides. Some areas are also surrounded by Kevlar soft armor for extra protection. The cockpit is protected by layers of reinforced armor and bulletproof glass. According to Boeing, every part of the helicopter can survive 12.7-mm rounds, and vital engine and rotor components can withstand 23-mm fire.

The area surrounding the cockpit is designed to deform during collision, but the cockpit canopy is extremely rigid. In a crash, the deformation areas work like the crumple zones in a car -- they absorb a lot of the impact force, so the collision isn't as hard on the crew. The pilot and gunner seats are outfitted with heavy Kevlar armor, which also absorbs the force of impact. With these advanced systems, the crew has an excellent chance of surviving a crash.

Photo courtesy U.S. Army

Flying an Apache into battle is extremely dangerous, to be sure, but with all its weapons, armor and sensor equipment, it is a formidable opponent to almost everything else on the battlefield. It is a deadly combination of strength, agility and fire power.

For more information about Apache helicopters and other weapons, check out the links on the next page.