The Army Air Corps WAH-64 is the successor to the Westland's TOW equipped Lynx anti-armour helicopters. The requirement for a new attack helicopter was identified in the early nineties with the initial suggestions that 125 would be ordered. The bids were Eurocoper Tiger, Bell Cobra Venon ( a version of the AH-1 Super Cobra) Boeing-Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche, Agusta A129 Mangusta & the Westland-McDonnell Douglas AH-64 Apache.
The Apache was selected in July 1995 and a contract for 67 helicopters was signed in 1996. The first Apache was built by Boeing which merged with McDonnell Douglas in 1997 and was delivered in March 1999. The first Westland built aircraft was completed in July 2000. The 67th and final Apache was handed over to the AAC in July 2004.
The Apache is operated by two regiments of the Army Air Corps (3 Regt AAC and 4 Regt AAC) as part of 16 (Air Assault) Brigade. The Apache will also operate in attack raids as US Army Apaches did on the first night of the 1991 Gulf War, destroying a major air defence node. Another mission is armed reconnaissance. Like the US AH-64D Apache Longbows; the Apache AH Mk1 carries a fire-control radar (FCR) and Radar Frequency Interferometer (RFI), providing an integrated surveillance and attack system. The 'Longbow’ radar is the bulbous unit over the rotor hub assembly. Radar placement above the rotors allows the Apache to hover behind cover scanning for targets, with only the radar unit exposed.
The Apache's first operation tour was part of the 16 Air Assault Brigade in Afghanistan. On May 22, 2006, a UK Apache operating in Afghanistan's South Helmand province fired one of its Hellfire missiles to destroy a French armoured vehicle that had been crippled during a firefight the previous day, as attempting to recover the vehicle would have been too hazardous. This is the first "kill" by a UK Apache in a hostile theatre.
The UK's Strategic Defence Review called for Apaches to undertake amphibious attack missions, operating from the helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, the Invincible class aircraft carriers and their successors, the (Royal Navy CVF programme), and possibly the amphibious assault vessels HMS Bulwark and Albion. As such, one of the major differences between the WAH-64 and AH-64 Apache variants is the folding blade mechanism, required to stow the helicopters in the confined space onboard ships.