Apache gear

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01 Oct 2018 | TECHNOLOGY

Apache gear

Take a peek at some of the items used by pilots of the Republic of Singapore Air Force's fearsome AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters, in the second of a three-part series on military gear.

// STORY Ong Hong Tat  

// Photos Chai Sian Liang

English Melayu

1 Helmet

Quite literally the gem of the crown, the helmet connects the pilot to the aircraft. Using onboard infrared sensors, the helicopter can track the pilot's head movements and allows various weapon systems to be slewed to the pilot's line-of-sight movements.

2 Visors

There are two visors that pilots can use before stepping out for the flight — one that is darkened to guard against glare and the other which is laser-safe to shield the pilots from some of the laser systems that the helicopter uses for combat operations.

3 Head Display Unit (HDU)

Mounted on the right side of the helmet, this L-shaped device displays flight information and night-vision imagery. Like a car's instrument cluster, but way more complex.

4 Helmet-mounted Microphone

This boom microphone allows the pilots to communicate within the cockpit and with external parties. There is even a little lip-activated light on the microphone that can be used to read maps or mission documents during night flights!

5 Specialised Glasses

These special prescription eyeglasses have a shorter right lens to accommodate the HDU (see item 3). The helmet visors have a similar cut-out for the same reason.

6 Skull Cap

A thin, flame-resistant cap is worn under the helmet for comfort. 


Made of flame-resistant Nomex material, these gloves protect the pilot's hands in case of a fire during emergencies.

8 Checklist

This important document lists the checks the pilots must perform before, during and after flight. For safety, the pilots are required to refer to the document during critical phases of flight to make sure that checks are properly conducted. 

9 Kneeboards

These contraptions are mini flying desks strapped to the pilot's thighs to hold documents or important notes. Some pilots even use them to hold family photos to remind them of the people they are protecting!

10 Survival Vest

Worn over the flight suit, the flight vest holds emergency supplies such as a first-aid kit, radio set, flashlights and even a small tank of air (see next item).


The Short Term Air Supply System or STASS holds about a minute of air to help the pilot evacuate the cockpit safely when his aircraft is submerged in the event of an emergency.

12 Flight Suit

Worn by pilots while in flight, the suit provides basic protection from the elements and is also flame-resistant. The patches on the suit identify which squadron the pilot belongs to, as well as the pilot's name. 

13 Communications Ear Plugs

These connect to the headset system within the helmet and let the pilot hear messages that come through the on-board comms system. They also reduce ambient sounds. 

14 Boots

Steel-capped boots, which are also flame resistant, help to protect the pilot’s feet.  

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