It features a nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems. It is armed with a 30 mm (1.18 in) M230 chain gun carried between the main landing gear, under the aircraft's forward fuselage
The U.S. Army is the primary operator of the AH-64; it has also become the primary attack helicopter of multiple nations, including Greece, Japan, Israel, the Netherlands, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates
American AH-64s have served in conflicts in Panama, the Persian Gulf, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Israel used the Apache in its military conflicts in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip; British and Dutch Apaches have seen deployments in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
One of the revolutionary features of the Apache was its helmet mounted display, the Integrated Helmet and Display Sighting System (IHADSS); among its capabilities, either the pilot or gunner can slave the helicopter's 30 mm automatic M230 Chain Gun to their helmet, making the gun track head movements to point where they look
The U.S. Army formally accepted its first production AH-64A in January 1984 and training of the first pilots began later that year. The first operational Apache unit, 7th Battalion, 17th Cavalry Brigade, began training on the AH-64A in April 1986 at Fort Hood, Texas. Two operational units with 68 AH-64s first deployed to Europe in September 1987 and took part in large military exercises there
During Operation Desert Storm on 17 January 1991, eight AH-64As guided by four MH-53 Pave Low IIIs destroyed part of Iraq's radar network in the operation's first attack, allowing aircraft to evade detection
While effective in combat, the AH-64 also presented serious logistical complications. Findings reported in 1990 stated "maintenance units could not keep up with the Apache's unexpectedly high work load..." To provide spare parts for combat operations, the U.S. Army unofficially grounded all other AH-64s worldwide; Apaches in the theater flew only one-fifth of the planned flight-hours