1-135th ARB receives full line-up of AH-64D Apache Longbows

  • Published
  • By By Senior Airman Nick Wilson
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The Missouri National Guard's 1-135th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion recently received its final AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter completing the battalion's 20 digital model aircraft that replaced an older analog model.

The primary mission of the 1-135th ARB is to readily deploy and provide ground forces with air support and direct close combat attack.

"We're basically the infantry's best friend when they're in a situation and need help," said Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Gentry, 1-135th ARB AH-64D Apache Longbow pilot.

During the past decade the older AH-64A Apache helicopter was used to support the 1-135th ARB's mission by providing armed reconnaissance when required in day or night, on the battlefield and in adverse weather conditions. The main difference in the upgrade from an AH-64A to the AH-64D model is the change from analog to digital controls and also allows the crew to acquire and process targets more accurately.

"This aircraft gives us more battle assessment and situational awareness," Gentry said. "They prepare us to be more combat effective and to be able to go to the battlefield and have an operational capability to speak to the ground commander."

To ensure aircraft are fully mission capable, the 1-135th ARB has a team of full time technicians who maintain and fly the aircraft.

Soldiers like Staff Sgt. Bo Epple, 1-135th ARB aircraft mechanic, are responsible for providing the routine maintenance necessary to keep these choppers in the sky.

"The diagnostic equipment in the new model is more accurate than the older version," said Epple. "It helps to accelerate the troubleshooting process and save time."

The majority of members from the 1-135th ARB are traditional National Guard soldiers.

In addition to their civilian jobs, many of the 1-135th Soldiers dedicated extra time to train on the new AH-64D Apache Longbow.

Acquiring the new model of Longbows has been an accomplishment for the 1-135th along with every aviator and mechanic going through three to four months of training, according to Gentry.

"The biggest accomplishment is having guys willing to be away from their families and go through extra training to be prepared for the next era of army aviation at Whiteman Air Force Base," said Gentry.