On October 11, 2023, the President of the Republic of Poland – Andrzej Duda – paid a visit to the 56th Air Base in Inowrocław. It was in connection with the official announcement that the above military unit will be the first place to receive and base Boeing AH–64E Apache attack helicopters to be purchased by the Ministry of Defense (MoD). Current speculation indicates that they will be intended mainly to support border services conducting operations on Poland’s eastern border.
For more than five years, the 56th Air Base in Inowrocław has been undergoing various infrastructural changes focused on the modernization and expansion of the airfield under the ‘Raven’ project, which would enable the deployment, hangar, and maintenance of modern combat helicopters. So far, aircraft such as Mil Mi–24D/W, PZL Świdnik W–3PL ‘Głuszec’ and Mil Mi–2 have been stationed in Inowrocław, which will be gradually withdrawn from service in the Polish Armed Forces.
On August 21, 2023, the United States Department of State issued an official statement through which it confirmed a Letter of Request relating to Poland’s purchase of 96 AH–64E Apache helicopters. The cost estimate, including the necessary equipment to enable their safe operation was estimated at $12 billion. With such a large order, there is a chance that Poland will become a leading European user of the AH–64E Apache and a partner of the United States in the area of NATO’s eastern flank. In turn, on August 25, 2023, the Ministry of Defense announced in a formal communiqué that the first Polish pilots are currently in the US to receive dedicated flight training for the AH–64E Apache combat helicopters. It is to begin with a two–month language course. The second phase of the training is to consist of a month–long training at a training center at Fort Novosel base (state of Alabama), where a series of exercises on learning to fly and operationally use the AH–64E Apache will be initiated. It is also planned to send American pilots to Poland for training at the 56th Air Base in Inowrocław. On the other hand, an agreement was signed on September 25, 2023, allowing the improvement of competencies and capabilities in support, repair and maintenance of helicopter components. These involve the acquisition of AN/APG–78 Longbow radar stations and M–TADS/PNVS observation and targeting modules, among others.
According to assurances from the Minister of National Defense – Mariusz Błaszczak – the deal may be finalized later this year. According to declarations by Boeing’s corporate vice president Kahtleen Jolivette, the AH–64E Apache combat helicopter for Poland is expected to provide a high degree of interoperability with the US armed forces, has a radar station that allows directing fire in cooperation with other military equipment and vehicles, and is capable of tracking numerous ground and air targets.
The AH–64E Apache attack helicopter is the primary type of attack helicopter in service with the United States Army. Its structure is designed as a highly rugged, fully armored structure capable of carrying out operations in all weather conditions, even in the complete absence of visibility. Then, the success of mission execution is ensured by an infrared navigation apparatus. The exterior of the cockpit was developed along the lines of a ‘kelvic bathtub’ and the helicopter’s main rotor skin is made of Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymer (GFRP) composite materials that allow the platform to continue flying even with its blades shot multiple times. The airborne armament it carries allows it to fight armored targets and provide support to ground troops. Among the means of aerial assault are the single–barrel automatic rapid–fire cannon M230 caliber 30mm, anti–tank guided air–to–ground missiles AGM–114 Hellfire and AGM–179 JAGM, AIM–92 Stinger class guided air–to–air missiles as well as Hydra 70 caliber 70 unguided air–to–ground missile launchers. In addition, the AH–64E Apache helicopter has a significant operational capability based on, among other things, its ability to co–operate and command a swarm of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) under the Manned–Unmanned Teaming project (MUM–T), compatibility with Abrams tanks being deployed to the Polish Armed Forces, the ability to travel at a low flight ceiling due to its narrow design, or to remain unnoticed while hovering over forested terrain. The AH–64E Apache helicopter can develop a maximum speed of 293 km/h and has a tactical operating radius of 482 km.
 Ł. Pacholski, Inowrocław first base of Polish AH–64E Apache, online – https://zbiam.pl/inowroclaw-pierwsza-baza-polskich-ah-64e-apache/ [accessed: 16.10.2023].
 Vide: J. Sabak, MON: Raven and investments in Inowrocław, online – https://defence24.pl/sily-zbrojne/mon-kruk-i-inwestycje-w-inowroclawiu [accessed: 16.10.2023].
 Among the equipment include: 96 AH–64E Apache, 18 spare propulsion units, General Electric Aerospace T700–GE–701D, spare AN/ASQ–170 M–TADS/PNVS observation and targeting module, 37 AN/APG–78 FCR radar stations (including one spare), 1844 Lockheed Martin AG–114R2 Hellfire guided anti–tank missiles, 96 M36E8 CATM size–mass mock–ups, 460 Lockheed Martin AGM–179A JAGM air–to–ground guided anti–tank missiles, 508 anti–aircraft RTX AIM–92 Stinger Block I missiles, 7650 APKWS II modules, 12 spare AN/ARC–231A radios, 6 spare AN/AAR–57 warning systems, modules allowing cooperation with unmanned aerial vehicles, IFF transponders, TACAN navigation equipment, ammunition, training and training equipment, helmets, ground maintenance equipment, training and training services, logistic support.
 Ł. Pacholski, Green light to sell AH–64E Apache helicopters to Poland, online – https://zbiam.pl/zielone-swiatlo-na-sprzedaz-smiglowcow-ah-64e-apache-polsce/ [accessed: 16.10.2023].
 Official service ‘Rzeczpospolita’, U.S. approval of Apache for Poland, online – https://radar.rp.pl/modernizacja-sil-zbrojnych/art38983571-amerykanska-zgoda-na-apache-dla-polski [accessed: 16.10.2023].
 Ł. Pacholski, Poles have begun training on the AH–64 Apache, online – https://zbiam.pl/polacy-rozpoczeli-szkolenie-na-ah-64-apache/ [accessed: 16.10.2023].
 Ł. Pacholski, Inowrocław pierwszą bazą polskich AH–64E Apache, op. cit.
 Business Insider, Apache for Poland. We will have the largest fleet of these helicopters outside the US, online – https://businessinsider.com.pl/biznes/apache-dla-polski-bedziemy-dysponowac-najwieksza-flota-tych-smiglowcow-poza-usa/0207shj [accessed: 16.10.2023].
 ‘Kelvic bathtub’ in AH–64E Apache helicopters refers to two aspects. First, the narrow, angular shape of the cockpit fairing refers to modern bathtubs. Second, kelvar refers to the structural material in the aramid polymer family from which the fairing was constructed. Kelvar is characterized by high tensile strength. In aviation, the Kevlar 49 standard is used to reinforce polymer matrix composites, further guaranteeing the structure’s very high resistance to fire.
 TVN24 official service, Apaches are set to arrive in Poland. Armament Agency spokesman: they can direct a swarm of drones and track more than a hundred targets, online – https://tvn24.pl/polska/wojsko-polskie-apache-maja-trafic-do-polski-rzecznik-agencji-uzbrojenia-o-zdolnosciach-smiglowcow-7308360 [accessed: 16.10.2023].
Photo: U. S. Air Force, Sgt. Matt Hecht, Apache head on, online – https://www.flickr.com/photos/matt_hecht/6957485362 [accessed: 16.10.2023].
Tekst powstał w ramach realizacji zadania publicznego zleconego w ramach Rządowego Programu Rozwoju Organizacji Obywatelskich na lata 2018–2030 r. „Bezpieczna Polska jutra – rozwój działań misyjnych Alioth Foundation”.