Have You Ever Wondered Why The AH-64 Is Called “Apache”? The American Indian Tribes Tradition

A part of the contest form for naming the UH-60 Helicopter.

All of the American Army helicopters are named after either Indian Tribe names, or Indian Tribe Chiefs’ names (Apache, Comanche, Chinook etc). This regularity is nowhere near accidental.

The most interesting finding I came across trying to find out where it comes from is a fragment of the American Army’s Aviation Digest from March 1977.

The last two pages of this issue contained a contest form for naming the UH-60 Helicopter known today as Black Hawk.

Image Credit: US Army

Here is the most interesting bit of the text of that issue, regarding the contest to give the UH-60A a name:

All recommended names must be received no later than 30 April 1977 to be eligible for consideration. All names are not acceptable. AR 70-28, dated 18 June 1976, specifies that Army aircraft should be given the names of American Indian tribes or chiefs or terms. The name should appeal to the imagination without sacrifice of dignity, and should suggest an aggressive spirit and confidence in the capabilities of the aircraft. The name also should suggest mobility, agility, flexibility, firepower and endurance.For brevity, it is suggested the name consist of only one word. The names given Army aircraft are primarily for use in public releases and other documents as a ready reference but have proven popular among Army personnel. In the past some Army aircraft, such as the 0-1 Bird Dog and OH-23 Raven were not given Indian names. In most cases, such aircraft were given their names before the present policy went into effect. These names have not been changed. The last aircraft introduced into the Army without an Indian name is the AH-1G HueyCobra. This aircraft, an outgrowth of the UH-1 Iroquois (Huey), was named by its maker before it was purchased by the Army. When the Army started buying the helicopter the name quickly was shortened by common usage to ” Cobra,” which is descriptive of its impressive fighting ability. The names of fixed and rotary wing Army aircraft are listed below.

AH-1 HueyCobra
OH-13 Sioux
CH-21 Shawnee
OH-23 Raven
CH-34 Choctaw
OH-58 Kiowa
CH-37 Mojave
TH-55 Osage
CH-47 Chinook
UH-1 Iroquois
CH-54 Tarhe
UH-19 Chickasaw
OH-6 Cayuse
AH-56 Cheyene

The original text of the Army Resolution mentioned above could not be found, but the journal text just summarizes its contents. If you ever wonder why the AH-64 is called Apache – well, here is the answer.

About Jacek Siminski
Standing contributor for TheAviationist. Aviation photojournalist. Co-Founder of DefensePhoto.com. Expert in linguistics, Cold War discourse, Cold War history and policy and media communications.