Meet the newest recruit at Boises Gowen Field: the AH-64D Apache Longbow.
The Idaho Army National Guards 1-183rd Aviation Battalion is now flying the most advanced version of the Apache.
The first four of the Red Bulls arrived at Gowen Field last week, and the Army Guard put the new aircraft on display Tuesday.
Over the next 10 months, another 20 will land at the base.
The thing Im most excited about is that well be relevant, said Lt. Col. Douglas Smith, the battalions commander. Theres nothing worse than sitting on the sidelines.
For decades, the 1-183rd has been flying 18 1980s-era Apache attack helicopters and Black Hawk utility helicopters.
The Gowen battalion was one of just two National Guard units in the country without the newest version of the Apache, Smith said.
The 1-183rd deployed to Bosnia in 2003-2004 and again to Afghanistan in 2006-07. The unit hadnt been deployed since because of its old aircraft, Smith said.
The new Longbows give the 1-183rd relevance for the next 25 years.
Theyre also sleek and modern. The old Apache helicopters are completely analog, with banks of buttons and toggles. The Longbow has a multipurpose display that is digitized. Buttons for new systems surround displays.
The newer aircraft also come with a steep learning curve for 70 pilots and 120 maintenance staffers at Gowen Field.
For example, the new helicopter has a more advanced version of FLIR technology forward-looking infrared radar which helps pilots and gunners see at night and in dust storms, and helps detect heat signatures.
You can see if a guy is holding a weapon in his hand, Smith said.
The new configuration of the helicopter exhausts its heat upward, which is then dissipated by the rotor, Smith said. That hides the Longbows heat signature and makes it more difficult for heat-seeking missiles to track it down.
The Longbow also comes with a radar on top to scan a battlefield and find targets. That radar information can be shared with other nearby aircraft.
Its all cool stuff, Smith said.
All that technology comes with a price its heavier.
Kathleen Kreller: 377-6418