In order to concurrently test fire a new missile from the aircraft, the Army is delaying follow-on test and evaluation of the AH-64E Apache gunship by a year, according to service aviation officials.
To “increase efficiency and effectiveness” of testing technology insertions in the AH-64E, FOT&E – previously scheduled for the third quarter of fiscal 2018 – is now planned to occur in the third quarter of fiscal year 2019.
"The realignment of the FOT&E is partially related to technical maturity but more heavily influenced by the opportunity to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and align multiple capabilities," said Col. Joseph Hoecherl Apache helicopter project manager for the Army’s aviation program office. "Realigning FOT&E II enables the Army to maximize its relevance and the combat effectiveness of the AH-64E Apache attack helicopter while efficiently using the Army's resources."
Topping the Army’s list of justifications for postponing the test event is so it can be combined with testing of the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) aboard the AH-64 Version 6. Consolidating the work should reduce demand for soldiers to participate in separate events and should allow more time for officials to focus on achieving final aircraft requirements, according to PEO Aviation.
The later testing schedule also will allow Army officials to “further develop and refine” the desired AH-64 V6 capabilities based on user input. Version 6 of the E-model Apache includes upgrades to lethality, situational awareness and navigation systems.
"The Apache program is moving forward to achieve all of the capability requirements identified by the Army," Hoecherl said.