To counter the threat of North Korea’s special forces units during a potential coastal invasion of South Korea, the U.S. Army will begin deploying its 2nd Infantry Division’s AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters.
Although such an invasion would fall under the Navy’s component of the current U.S.-South Korean Operations Plan, the use of Army assets is seen as promoting synergy in the overall mission of defending South Korea. The 2nd Infantry Division has two AH-64D battalions, plus a third that rotates in and out—and is currently in-country.
Those aircraft will now become regular components of training exercises conducted along the Demilitarized Zone.
The AH-64, developed in the late-1970s and first introduced in the mid-1980s, is still considered the premier military helicopter in the world, capable of speeds of up to 227 mph and maximum altitude of 21,000 feet. It is equipped with on M230 30 mm chain gun linked to an onboard Area Weapon Subsystem, Hydra air-to-surface missiles, and either Hellfire or Stinger missiles.
The “D” variant features the Longbow, a high-tech fire control and target acquisition system housed in a dome above the rotors. This feature allows the Apache to pick targets and plot targeting solutions for those that are moving while it remains hidden behind obstacles, such as trees and structures, that obstruct the enemy’s view.
South Korea has also acquired two battalions of AH-64E variants, but those helicopters are not yet ready for full operation.