BOISE -- Within the last 10 years, the Idaho National Guard has had six major deployments, sending several thousand Idahoans into combat zones. Tuesday the1-183rd Attack Aviation Battalion showed off the first three of 24 new Apache Longbow helicopters they're getting.
Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Smith, a pilot with the battalion, says just the mere presence of this helicopter is a deterrent to the enemy, giving soldiers a major advantage in combat. He's waited nearly 10 years to see the new Apache Longbow helicopters arrive at Gowen Field. He says the helicopter will be used to support soldiers on the ground and to escort blackhawk helicopters.
"The neat thing about this is because some of the upgrades we have on this helicopter, you can now actually, with the new optics and stuff, you can actually see your target even before you get in the range of the weapons system," said Smith.
The Apache helicopter also has an enhanced night vision system that will help soldiers find targets in the dark. He says they can also use this to find missing hikers and campers in the mountains near Boise if needed.
"I tell you what, again these new optics, the forward looking infrared system that we have, we can see hot spots and find these people that maybe lost up in the woods," said Smith.
The aircraft also carries and shoots missiles and is armed with a 30 millimeter chain gun. He says his battalion has no orders to deploy right now but says these helicopters are important for training.
A spokesperson for the Army National Guard also says in addition to these new aircrafts, the guard is expecting to receive about 50 new Abrams tanks and 50 new Bradley fighting vehicles on June 2nd.