Thursday, April 22, 1999 Published at 08:39 GMT 09:39 UK
Apache: The all-weather attacker
By BBC Defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus
The AH-64 Apache attack helicopter is one of the most potent weapons systems in the US arsenal.
The twin-engined attacker can operate both day and night, whatever the weather.
The helicopter can carry up to 16 Hellfire laser-guided missiles and its role is to destroy tanks and other armoured vehicles far ahead of its own front line.
Nato has ruled out suggestions that the 24 Apaches being deployed in Albania are the first move towards a land war.
Announcing the addition of the Apache to the Nato force, the Pentagon said the Apache would give Nato the chance to "get up close and personal" with Serbian armour.
The recent controversy over the bombing of a civilian convoy by Nato warplanes illustrates the difficulties facing pilots operating at altitudes of around 15,000 ft.
With Yugoslav forces widely dispersed and equipped with large quantities of shoulder-fired surface-to-air Manpads missiles and old-fashioned rapid-firing guns, good tactical intelligence will be the key to the Apache's success.
The AH-64 played a key role in the US intervention in Panama in 1989, when most of its missions were at night.
Apaches are credited with destroying more than 500 Iraqi tanks as well as hundreds of other vehicles.
Indeed Apaches opened the Alliance air campaign in the Gulf when they destroyed key air defence radars, opening up "a key-hole" in Iraq's air defences for the first waves of strike aircraft.
Over 800 Apaches have been delivered to the US Army and the helicopter has been exported to Egypt; Greece; Israel; Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.