The Deadly New Apache

Apache longbow helicopter CBS

If there is a war with Iraq, one of the weapons Saddam's army will fear the most will be the new Apache Longbow helicopter. An older version fired the first shots of the first Gulf War. The new model is even deadlier.

In footage obtained exclusively by CBS News, an Apache launching hellfire missiles is seen operating with deadly effect during Operation Anaconda last year in Afghanistan.

CBS News Anchor Dan Rather hitched a ride in an army Blackhawk helicopter in the Kuwait to watch the Apache go through its paces.

Pilot James Deppen spoke on the radio as he raced over the Kuwaiti desert.

Deppen piloted the helicopter maintaining the altitude between 50 and 100 feet. Any lower than that and the Apache will start kicking up too much dust.

"60,50,40 … we produce a dust cloud which is very easy to see from great distances," says Deppen over the radio.

The choppers can land deep in Iraq to take on more fuel and ammunition.

With its speed and sophisticated computer systems the Apache is perfect for striking columns of armor or just about anything that moves in a desert environment.

The pilot and his gunner, who sits up front, get a constant stream of information through an eyepiece called a heads up display.

Back on the ground, pilot Deppen explained the biggest breakthrough: a radar system that can find a target and continue tracking it after the missile is fired.

"Essentially the craft was designed to operate in that environment, with minimal contrast around the aircraft in a desert environment. It will pick up vehicles in a radius all around the aircraft," explains Deppen.

The pilots talk about electronics and radar guided missilery and it boggles the mind. But it also raises the question: it may be great in training but would it be good in combat?

"Guess we won't know till we're given that call and find out," says Deppen.
  • Sue Chan

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