By: Robert Dougherty
The Australian Defence Force is trialling an Apache attack helicopter on the HMAS Canberra in Sydney.
The iconic American twin-turboshaft attack helicopter started compatibility trials aboard the HMAS Canberra landing helicopter dock ship in service with the Royal Australian Navy on 22 February.
US military, Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army, and Royal Australian Air Force were present onboard the ship to oversee the trial.
Royal Australian Navy Leading Seaman Thomas Atkinson (pictured below), who conducts aviation maintenance, said the trials started with military personnel checking for helicopter-to-ship compatibility.
“They’re just conducting trials to find out the compatibility with the landing helicopter dock. They basically land and take-off, and they’re also testing to make sure all the ships systems are compatible,” he said.
The Apache is the primary attack helicopter of numerous nations including America, Greece, Japan, Israel, the Netherlands, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates.
It hosts an armament of Hydra-70 rockets, hellfire, air-to-ground or air-to-air missiles and a 30mm cannon.
The Australian Defence Force is expected to replace its Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters with AH-64E Apache Guardians. Twenty-nine helicopters will be purchased with a scheduled fleet of 12 operational helicopters in 2026 and the full complement by 2028.
HMAS Canberra Commanding Officer Captain Jace Hutchison said the helicopter could become a major asset for the ADF.
“The Apache is the next stepping stone (for the Australian Defence Forces) because the Australian Army is going to be purchasing that aircraft,” he said.
“It’s going to be the attack helicopter first strike for the ADF and it needs to operate from the landing helicopter dock.”