Role of armed helicopters in army operations

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Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby ravi_s » 15 Jan 2003 20:15

Started this thread to discuss the following:

1. The various armed helos which Indian Armed forces has
2. Are there any operating procedures (known) for the use of armed helos in an land based operation? (Apart from the CAS which the IAF provides)
3. Do those helos come under Army aviation or the IAF?
4. Did any of ur armed forces exercises (parakram) envisaged or incorporated these armed helos in a larger role?
5. Night warfare capabilities of our armed helos

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby Bishwa » 15 Jan 2003 20:21

The armed forces operates 3 Mi24/35 attack helo sqns. They are operated by the
Aif Force but come under the operational control of the Army. I believe each strike corp has control of 1 sqn.

Some of these helos are being upgraded with Israeli help. The upgrades include night fighting
capability IIRC.

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby Jagan » 15 Jan 2003 20:24

Originally posted by bishwa:
The armed forces operates 3 Mi24/35 attack helo sqns. They are operated by the
Aif Force but come under the operational control of the Army. I believe each strike corp has control of 1 sqn.
Guys,

I am at a loss here, I know 104 and 125 are two Squadrons. Which one is the third Mi-24/35 Squadron?

TIA

Jagan

PS: Also include Mi-8s Mi-17s, ATGM equipped Chetaks and the new Lancer in the discussions!

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby Kakkaji » 16 Jan 2003 01:15

Is Lancer the attack version of Dhruv or is it a modified Cheetah or Chetak? For how long has been in service? Who operates it, the Air Force or the Army? What is the weapons configuration?

In the annual encyclopedia version of the AWST, the Lancer is mentioned as a Light Attack Helicopter under production by HAL, whereas recent Indian media reports indicate that the Light Attack Version of the Dhruv is still under development. That is why I am :confused:

Thanks in Advance

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby Raman » 16 Jan 2003 03:14

Lancer is based off the cheetah. The LAH moniker has been attached to several projects. Previously, the Lancer was also called LAH. The current LAH project is based on Dhruv.

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby Rupak » 16 Jan 2003 03:21

All Lancers are modified Cheetah. HAL confirmed that no new airframes are being built for the Lancer programme. Rather existing airframes are being modified as they come in for overhaul. IIRC, the total order is for 80 Lancers.

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby Rajit » 16 Jan 2003 11:01

Ravi

When you talk about operating procedures are you asking about the IA-IAF liaison at times of war or doctrine?

Former has been answered above but in terms of doctrine there are 2 essential philosophies to the employment of gunships (assumption that their primary tasking is in an anti-armour role):

1.Nato doctrine: Essentially requires that gunships loiter in the target area for a long time carrying out recce (with scout heptrs if they do not have mast mounted sensors), using terrain and vegetation for cover, popping up to loose off a couple of ATGMs before seeking cover again - sort of a hide and seek scenario.This was possible also because their gunships were small, very agile and nimble.

2. Soviet / Russian doctrine: Involved flying their huge Hinds fast, Nap Of Earth, entering the target area only for a short period of time, discharging munitions and exiting.Essentially accepting high-risk for a very short period of time as they couldnt 'merge" into the terrain.Another corollary of this doctrine was for the Hind to use its troop carrying capability to deploy anti-tank teams around the target area and then going in for a dedicated strike.

Since to the best of my knowledge, we do not have any dedicated scout heptrs of the OH-58 variety and the Hinds are not only big and bulky but also lack a mast mounted site like the Oh 58/ Longbow Apache we would be fighting the battle soviet style.

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby ravi_s » 16 Jan 2003 11:28

Given that our helos are limited to carrying out very short and high risk operations to be perceived as a major component in our army strategies, are there any recent updates about the israeli upgrades to our helos in curing our "night blindness" ;) ?

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby Rajit » 16 Jan 2003 12:22

IMHO, as long as you dont have a mast mounted Target detection and acquisition system / Scout heptrs, and your gunship platform remains the Hind, you will have a very limited doctrinal envelope in a war situation.

Thats why the ALH conversion into a dedicated gunship with mast mounted sensors or an acquisition of a platform like Apache / Tiger is critical.

also, we need to once and for all make Army Aviation in charge of these gunships...all this deputation / liasion stuff is very sub optimal.

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby Shankar » 16 Jan 2003 14:24

What we have is not enough-to truely implement the air-land battle concept a large force of missile armed helo is required along with equal if not larger number of troop carrying ones.In todays battlefield the capability to move fast and strike hard accurately will decide which side is the winner.The helo fleet of IA need to be expanded/upgraded very quickly and complete control handed over to army .AH-64 and Commanches -alas we dont get now .

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby Rajit » 16 Jan 2003 15:12

If unconfirmed rumours are true the U.S. has agreed to sell us Orion Maritime patrol aircraft...an Apache deal would be much more emotive and alarming to the Pakistanis but if our leadership can manage 40 odd Apaches (even non longbows will do..the Israelis would configure something for us)...then in force multiplier terms our 3 strike corps could do the job of 4.

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby Katare » 17 Jan 2003 05:27

I have hard time understanding and gauging the importance and effectiveness of attack helos in direct combat with any kind of land formation, with or without air cover. Although they are so handy for logistics and brass/elite movement but how can a inherently bulky, noisy, low flying, slow speed machine can survive, leave aside fighting and killing, in ‘compact (sub) supersonic shoulder fired missile infested’ battle ground? Are flares that effective?

Is it wise to invest limited resources in developing attack helos given that we would have pretty much competitive battle (No absolute superiority like uncle)?

What is so unique/critical that an attack helo can do (or can do more effectively) for army that can’t be done by infantry or armor in direct offensive or defensive move?

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby shiv » 17 Jan 2003 06:14

This topic has been discused at great length on BR at least 5 times in the past - and unfortunately none of thediscussions were archived. But teh lack of interest in this thread reflects the fact that the issues have been beaten to death.

My 2 paise:

Exactly WHERE do you need armed helos?

1)Anti tank: needs reasonably flat terrain - or there won;t be any tanks. Als no use in forested area.

2)COIN ops: do not need tank busting machines for targeting Veerappan types.

Buy Akash Yodha and see the terrain of IA/IAF ops. North East - mountains and forest - no tanks

Kashmir: mountains - no tanks

Rajasthan/Punjab: tanks possible

West/South/East: mainly ocean.

IOW heavily armed antitank helos are Pakistan specific and form only a smallpercentage of Indian helicopter needs.

Heos are used for casevac, recce, transport, paradrop, rescue, COIN and attack.

"Armed helos" form only a small percent of tehrole that helos are used for.

How much money and investment is NEEDED? How much can be budgeted?

Where would armed helos be best used? What would be the best compromise for helos to meet most needs without swallowing ALL available money like Packee army?

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby Raman » 17 Jan 2003 06:59

Although armed helos have recently been tasked for anti-tank operations, that is not necessarily the case. This FAS has some extremely interesting information about the use of armed helicopters.

The primary purpose of attack helicopter operations is the destruction of enemy ground force at decisive points. Attack units can conduct deep operations or be used in conjunction with ground maneuver units during close battle operations. For cross-component support, Army attack helicopters, usually tasked as units, can perform a close air support (CAS) function. Attack units normally are most effective when used in mass in continuous operations on the enemy's flanks and rear. Night operations are the preference.

Although the primary mission of an attack helicopter is to destroy armored and mechanized threat targets, this mission changes when the helicopter is employed in a low-intensity conflict (LIC). In this environment, it may assume a role similar to close air support (CAS) for the units on the ground. With this new role, it is important for infantry units to effectively communicate with and direct the attack aircraft. Small infantry units can already call in fire from attack helicopters; this was very common in many combat actions in Vietnam. But the art of providing attack helicopter fire support to light infantry has been lost, for the most part, from disuse. The reason is that although attack helicopters can be used throughout the spectrum of conflict from low- to high-intensity, the focus has been on mid- to high-intensity where they can mass fires against armor and mechanized forces. There are many ways the attack helicopter can be tasked to support an infantry unit, whether it is requested on the spot, through battalion and brigade, or assigned a direct support role during a mission. No matter how the tasking comes down, communication between the helicopter and the ground unit is paramount.
Interestingly, the page states that the US army and air force prefer fixed-wing CAS to avoid the inter-service turf war. :)

In the Indian context, I would think that the mobility of the armed helicopter would provide ground forces with the flexibility to hit the enemy hard especially when the terrain is bad, since artillery and armour cannot be brought to bear easily in such terrain. Also, terrain provides helo pilots with many advantages: ducking behind terrain/obstacles for cover after releasing weaponry.

I don't concur with the school of throught that armed helos are applicable only in flat terrain and only for tank busting, since such an employment would not be exploiting the strengths of helicopters: rapid reaction, mobility, and ability to use terrain to good advantage.

OTOH, the proliferation of MANPADS has made helo operations very hazardous. This may be the reason why IAF/IA are reluctant to get into the helo business.

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby Joeqp » 17 Jan 2003 07:51

I'm not sure about the efficacy of the Apaches (let alone the price :roll: ). Weren't the Apaches the ones that were grounded in Kosovo 'cause they couldn't handle the rough terrain?

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby Katare » 17 Jan 2003 07:54

I still can’t see

What is so unique/critical that an attack helo can do (or can do more effectively) for army that can’t be done by infantry or armor in direct offensive or defensive move?

FYI….I was one of the first one to buy Akash Yodha and I have pretty good sense of Indian terrain too……(if that was targeted towards me)

I think helo operations are at least as dangerous (or more) in forest and mountains as in plains? Helos don’t make any sense for tank busting anymore in missile infested modern battlefield. Although I am not sure about MANPADs effectiveness at night? Yes they can provide speed compared to infantry and can semi substitute armor in bad terrain but at what cost and what efficiency?

I can see their use for logistics, elite troop movement, COINS and Recce, and whatever else…..but they look pretty helpless in the sky in a direct major battle to me. All modern tanks have anti helo rounds and even they can be shot at (if flying low) by small arms and AAG effectively. If charging formation has air cover, helos don’t stand a chance of doing what they suppose to do.

In my opinion HAL should concentrate more on non-attack/civilian versions of Dhruv for AF instead of attack version……Attack helos don’t seems to have bright future unless some kind of protection suite is developed for them against MANPADs. Until Helos could mostly be used in support roles, effectively.

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby shiv » 17 Jan 2003 08:52

Originally posted by Rajesh:

In the Indian context, I would think that the mobility of the armed helicopter would provide ground forces with the flexibility to hit the enemy hard [b]especially
when the terrain is bad, .[/b]
"Hit the enemy hard" is an interesting phrase and needs some explanation. "Hitting the enemy hard in bad terrain" can involve humans, airlifted artillery (heavy machineguns, mortar, light artillery, manportable missiles), light COIN aircraft, medium aircraft that can heft 2-4 tons of bombs and rockets in one go, including Napalm, PGMs from aircraft, artillery fire from 30 Km away using an UNARMED helo/AOP aircraft to guid the artillery depending on the situation.

You use a knife when a knife is needed, a fork when that is needed, both when appropriate and fingers for a masala dosa, though you could use a fork and knife. You stir with a spoon, though you could use a knife or fork for that.

What I am cribbing about is this seemingly mindless and obsessive desire to apply helicopters for "hiiting the enemy hard" (as in bashing) - a role that can often be done far better, or at least in no worse a degree of cost-effiency by multiple, easily available and less mainntenance intensive and expensive options for armed forces that may be called upon to act in wildly varying terrain or a FAR GREATER variety that the terrain faced by most armed forces of the world.

Helicopters, as I wrote earlier are best for:

casevac, recce, transport, paradrop, rescue, COIN and attack
Note that "Hitting the enemy" requires helos for these alternative roles as well and many of these roles CANNOT be performed by ANY other means.

helos are expensive and maintenance intensive. Use their strengths. THINK if they are definitely superior in the "attack role" to any other modality. They are in some instances, and they are not in others - but for rescue, casevac and transport of men/equipment in difficult terrain - NOTHING like helos. For hitting tanks over long distances in flat terrain - nothing like helos. Battlefield interdiction - helos CAN be used - but so can Hunters. MiG 21s Su 25s or A 10s or Hawks and these, by virtue of speed and acceleration are less susceptible to ground fire and carry a higher weapon load.

Each armed force has to decide how much money, men and maintenance it can provide for these roles and buils its doctrine around that. Teh US does what it sees fit, based onits economics and perceived role. India does the what it sees as best. There is no reasonto think that one is more right or more wrong than the other.

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby Div » 17 Jan 2003 08:57

Let me make a few points, most relating to attack helicopters:

- MANPADS usually have stated ranges in the 5-7km range, but will almost always be used within line of sight of the operator. Most attack helos are capable of attacking armour formations at ranges greater than the line of sight of a soldier on the ground. They will still be vulnerable to more complex systems like the Avenger, Linebacker, Tunguska & Crotale which have radar facilities.

- Attack helos have a built in stealth capability when it comes to radar detection, that being their ability to fly in low. The first wave of attacks during the Gulf War were carried out by Apaches, taking out Iraqi radar sites.

- They are not necessarily bulky, noisy and slow - some can be quite agile .


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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby Rajit » 17 Jan 2003 10:04

As long as there's huge quantity of armour to be dealt with, the only better anti-tank weapon, other than another tank is a helicopter gunship.

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby debjani » 17 Jan 2003 10:07

Without going into characteristics of all types of attack helicopters [AHs] and the enemy’s Air Defence {AD} environment, it is suffice to say that attack helicopters can be useful.
Conceptwise, AHs would fly in the following terrain flying modes i.e. low level, contour [flying just over the contours] flying and Nap of the Earth flying [flying in between the contours, trees etc]. The last two techniques allow the helicopters to be relatively safe. The enemy can always hear the helicopter but since the exposure is sudden and short, the enemy’s hit probability is reduced. In the event there are homing devices on the enemy AD weapons, adequate electronic or other means have to be on board to decoy the enemy’s AD weapons so that the helicopter is not hit. Further, immediately before, during and after the attack by the helicopters, there would be suppressive fire so that the enemy’s ‘head is down’.
The AHs have an advantage in that they would be able to hit ‘pin point’ which artillery may not be able to achieve. The rationale for the use of any military equipment which is expensive or in short supply is that if the enemy target can be engaged with other means, then the expensive mean need not be used.
AHs could be used for supporting attacks, foiling attacks by the enemy, supporting Counter Attacks, supporting raids, providing fire support for casevac, providing support fire for heliborne operations, anti tank operations and many more tasks. They are basically elevated fire support platforms with combat punch. Therefore, they have their place in combat. However, there being a limited number in this country and therefore they have to be used judiciously. They are however, noisy and lumbering machines [not the hybrid homebrewed ones, which too are quite interesting].
Normal helicopters can be used for communication, liaison, casevac, recce etc.
The problem of use of helicopters or any aircraft in high altitude is that the All Up Weight is less and hence its efficacy is reduced and cannot be used optimally. Those who have flown IA to Leh would know that the number of passengers carried is much less that in other places.
Weather and visibility also plays a major role in helicopter operations.

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby ravi_s » 17 Jan 2003 12:18

we should also remember that the first shot of the Gulf war was fired from an US AH-64 Apache which unleased AGM 114 Hellfire missiles at Iraqi radar sites bordering saudi arabia..
i think that was the first time attack helos were used in an semi-SEAD role
can the Mi-35 carry any HARM missiles?

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby shiv » 25 Jan 2003 09:12

The Indian experience in the use of military helicopters

http://www.geocities.com/TheTropics/3328/idr00014.htm


It is a moot point whether India needs to consider a merger of attack and utility roles in one platform. But on the whole a merger of roles makes sense, being more cost-effective.

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby venkat_r » 25 Jan 2003 11:50

In the 1991 Gulf war, Helicopter gunships were accorded more than 1000 (armoured vehecles + tank) kills.

I think from that point onwards US has a policy of using them in a big way in any future warfare.

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby khukri » 25 Jan 2003 13:17

Originally posted by shiv:
The Indian experience in the use of military helicopters

http://www.geocities.com/TheTropics/3328/idr00014.htm


It is a moot point whether India needs to consider a merger of attack and utility roles in one platform. But on the whole a merger of roles makes sense, being more cost-effective.
.but then you end up getting a machine that is sub-optimal in both roles - a jack of both trades and a master of none. I agree with the posts above that we need a dedicated gunship with mast mounted sights - given the proliferation in MANPADS across the border.

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby Sukumar » 25 Jan 2003 19:50

Khukri

Thats why India has the ALH (utility + armed chopper) and then the gunship that is evolving from the ALH.

As I had suggested in a thread long time ago a good name for the gunship would be ALAH (Advanced Light Attack Helicopter)......... would put the fear of God into the pukis........ ;)

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby shiv » 25 Jan 2003 20:17

Originally posted by khukri:
Originally posted by shiv:
[qb]The Indian experience in the use of military helicopters

http://www.geocities.com/TheTropics/3328/idr00014.htm

but then you end up getting a machine that is sub-optimal in both roles - a jack of both trades and a master of none.
Well, beggars can't be choosers.

Your point is answered in teh article itself - which you may have missed.

In a resource-starved country like ours, the effort has been and must be to make the best use of available resources. Given this fact, India must look for a multi-utility/attack helicopter combined, as it may not be financially possible to acquire mission-dedicated helicopters. In this sense, the ALH being developed by HAL has to be capable of a dual role.

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby cellinisperceus » 25 Jan 2003 21:58

I have been reading a variety of your posts shiv, and they are well researched and to the point with strategical requirements. However in this case I beg to differ with you.
Gulf War I showed effectively how a better trained and better equipped brigade can wipe out an entire divisison. The attack capabilities of Apaches in particular and choppers in general were shown to a great extent.
Personally, I think that a dedicated squardon of attack copters is of more use than ground attack a/c. Then again copters shold come under army aviation wind giving the hqs better command and control.
I would look forward to having dedicated squardons of attact copters in all the three strike corps of Indian army. A good doctrine and training can convert our corps into dangerous elements capable of destroying and rendering maximum attrition to enemy armies.

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby venkat_r » 25 Jan 2003 22:19

Shiv, as the report is dated and from 1995, Not many wars have happened since then other than Kargil and Op parakram, OP vijay etc.., but there might have been newer alternatives that might have cropped up and they have to be evaluated and studied.

In the Gulf-I the US choppers were a part of Army and also did take place in the initial phase of the battle along with the Air campain. This seems to be the ideal for India too. Given the so many requirements for India and the importance of Choppers in the battlefield, this is the better solution for India too. But depending upon the availability of resources India can look at other options.

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby Sumeet » 25 Jan 2003 22:57

How effective can this system be against MANPADs ?

http://www.aeronautics.ru/archive/aeronews/conv/article_November_2002_6_110.htm

Russia Hoping to Sell New Air Defence Laser Jamming System at Chinese Air Show

[6 Nov 2002] Russia's laser jamming system intended for protecting aircraft from Stinger, Strela and Igla missiles with thermal homing warheads has excited interest of participants in Air Show China 2002 that is under way in Zhuhai. The system was developed by the automatic systems design bureau. "The latest developments in Chechnya and other regions of the world, the rampancy of terrorism prove that planes and helicopters, including civil ones, are extremely vulnerable to portable air defence missile systems during take-off and landing," the bureau's deputy director general in charge of foreign economic activity Aleksandr Kisletsov told Interfax- Military News Agency today. The new system is far more efficient than all previous ones designed in both Russia and abroad, he said. In addition, it is cheaper than its foreign analogues. According to Kisletsov, the new laser system has been exhibited in Dubai, Singapore, Berlin and London, exciting interest at all the shows. The system consists of an infrared emitter, a laser ray detection and sighting system and missile launch sensors. There are two modifications of the system - for combat aviation and for civilian planes and helicopters. The warplane modification is packed in special suspended containers, which makes it possible to use it without serious modernization of aircraft. Passenger planes can house the system inside the fuselage. The weight of the system ranges from 110 to 140 kg depending on the modification. The range of suppressing the enemy's data channels equals the range of missile launches, which amounts to 15-20 km for air-to-air missiles and up to 5 km for surface-to-air missiles. Several nations of the Middle East and Southeastern Asia, as well as China, have expressed interest in procuring the system.

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby khukri » 26 Jan 2003 00:01

Well, beggars can't be choosers.

Your point is answered in teh article itself - which you may have missed.

In a resource-starved country like ours, the effort has been and must be to make the best use of available resources. Given this fact, India must look for a multi-utility/attack helicopter combined, as it may not be financially possible to acquire mission-dedicated helicopters. In this sense, the ALH being developed by HAL has to be capable of a dual role.
[/QB][/QUOTE]
Well I'm not sure we're beggars any more. There are enough resources being dedicated to acquiring hardware - and I believe in this case not getting dedicated attack helicopters is a case of penny wise pound foolish! The Mi17s/Mi24/Mi35's are vulnerable to MANPADS - which has been borne out by the Afghan experience.

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby Subra » 26 Jan 2003 02:56

Before anybody goes into raptures about the Ah 64 in the Gulf war, please remeber that it was operatig with virtually no opposition.

Any poor sod who peeped out got plinked.

If we can attain that capability we ca talk about dedicated attack helos.

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby Roop » 26 Jan 2003 05:41

Before anybody goes into raptures about the Ah 64 in the Gulf war, please remeber that it was operatig with virtually no opposition.
Yes, and moreover, there was a good reason that the US was scared to death to introduce their Apaches into Kosovo -- they knew the Yugoslav Army and irregulars had not been neutralized. Any helicopter force flying into K would have taken heavy losses from ground fire. Actually, it wasn't just helicopters, NATO was reluctant to introduce any regular (i.e. non-Special Forces) ground forces into Kosovo until the KLA had neutralized the Yugoslav Army. The terrorist KLA served as NATO ground forces' advanced guard in Kosovo.

But, alas, I digress! :)

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby khukri » 26 Jan 2003 09:27

Originally posted by Mohan Raju:
Before anybody goes into raptures about the Ah 64 in the Gulf war, please remeber that it was operatig with virtually no opposition.
Yes, and moreover, there was a good reason that the US was scared to death to introduce their Apaches into Kosovo -- they knew the Yugoslav Army and irregulars had not been neutralized. Any helicopter force flying into K would have taken heavy losses from ground fire. Actually, it wasn't just helicopters, NATO was reluctant to introduce any regular (i.e. non-Special Forces) ground forces into Kosovo until the KLA had neutralized the Yugoslav Army. The terrorist KLA served as NATO ground forces' advanced guard in Kosovo.

But, alas, I digress! :)
Mohan, there is a difference between introducing helicopters (or ground troops) into a populated urban environment (Kosovo)and using them as assault armour in open spaces (Iraq). The primary role of assault helicopters is tank busting and a secondary one (Iraq again) in attacking high value targets of opportunity such as radar stations or missile batteries etc.

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby debjani » 26 Jan 2003 14:19

I would like to give a point of caution when the Gulf War is being taken as the datum line.

Everything of the US appparently was clockwork. It may not be just that it was superiror. In war, Command and Control is MOST important. Iraq was denied the same because of excellent US ECCM, ECM meansure whereby the command and control of the Iraqi was totally made null and void. In the absence of a cooridnated stand by troops on the ground, they fought, if they did, as isolated outposts!
Further, in the Telegraph today, they have stated that US has asked its citizen to return to the US and that the US will use Tactical Nukes against Iraq! God Belss us all.

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby Johann » 28 Jan 2003 02:03

Dedicated attack helicopters (as opposed to armed observation or support helicopters)serve two primary functions

- escorting support helicopters over hostile ground, and providing fire support to air mobile forces.

- providing organic firepower against armoured or mechanised forces.

That's what they do best, and military acquisition has to be match military needs.

Attack helicopters have there place as part of the ground forces combined arms scheme, i.e. as assets that support the commanders maneouvre along with everything else at division or brigade level and below.

The Soviet experience in Afghanistan suggested that any significant low-level AD threat curtails attack helicopters from devoting any significant time to targets of opportunity, which I suspect is what many here are fixated on.

It should also be remembered that attack helicopter operations are very dependant on weather. Visibility is everything. Even if you had the money to train and euip the fleet to the point where low level navigation in poor visibility is safe there are conditions where even thermal imagers and radar will not allow you to pick up and positively ID the kind of targets attack helicopters would be tasked against.

The Israelis working in a relatively weak AD threat environment use their attack helicopters to provide flexible, surgical firepower in retaliatory actions against fixed structures in urban environments like Gaza and West Bank, as well as special operations against targetted vehicles of terrorist leadership.

There certainly is a role for armed rotary winged assets in certain kinds of COIN and CT operations, but there's no call for platforms on the level of complexity and cost as the the AH-64

There also seems to be a lot of excitement about Operation Eager Anvil, but I must point out that this was really in the realm of special operations rather than attack helicopter tactics. The AH-64s could not have got there with out the MH-53 Pave Lows to guide them to the target. This was an air component target that could have been neutralised in a number of ways but a series of peculiar circumstances resulted in this particular choice. The biggest factor here was surprise, since this would be the first shot of the war. The package could fly under radar coverage (over largely empty desert), pop up and demolish a known, fixed target with only limited AD assets around it.

In many ways it was a pity that things did not work out in Kosovo. Integrating the Apache with the Air Tasking Order, JSTARS and AWACS as was envisaged would have turned the helicopter in to an air component strike asset, a concept that had never really been tested.

Mohan, the US Department of the Army leadership (as opposed to EUCOM headed by Gen. Wesley Clark) no doubt showed excessive conservatism in is deployment options for TF Hawk. Their plan called for 5,500 personnel and 500 C-17 lifts to support two dozen Apaches. The number of supporting units demanded created a logistical nightmare given how underdeveloped the region was. That was more of a reflection of the Clinton administration's weak direction to the policy and military machine, combined with its deep political sensitivity to casualties. If SACEUR today sent a deployment plan to the secretary of defense that called for hundreds C-17 lifts and a couple of months just to deploy 24 attack helicopters Rumsfeld would throw it back at him and hammer the poor bugger until he got something that was ready to go in two weeks at most. Doctrine matters a great deal to American planners, and US Army doctrine envisages attack helicopters as a supporting rather than supported asset. This means planners must create an entire concept of operations and tailor a deployment package to suit it on the fly. How they do it depends on the environment created by their bosses. If the emphasis is preventing caualties they will move slowly and make conservative assumptions. The more conservative the assumptions, the larger the force becomes, and the more time it takes to assemble, deploy and ready. You end up having to do things like improve or expand airfields, etc. If the boss's priority is speed that means you cut corners on things like force protection, medical infrastructure, reserves, etc.

Abhisham
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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby Abhisham » 28 Jan 2003 09:56

Just wanted to ask something. Is there any news on the net about india buying attack helicopter??

Because Say about four months back i had asked an air-force officer about the attack helicopter fleet of India and that shouldn't they be buying and deploying more of these to give fire support to the army. His answer was that yes we are in the process of negotiating price for Mi-28N helicopters. But they seemed quite expensive with a price tag of 75 crores/heli compared to Mi-17 IV which were only 16 crores/heli. The airforce was looking into purchasing atleast a squadron of these as the fleet of the mi-24 were very old and also a few had been lost during normal exercises. Attrition replacement were also necessary.

Abhisham

Abhisham
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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby Abhisham » 28 Jan 2003 10:02

About the role of armed helicopters in the army i talked to this officer for quite some time. He had flown the Mi-35 and he said was they are flying gunships, they fly nap of the earth at around 250km/hr and carry hell of a payload. You can hit the enemy and get out of the area before they knowing what hit them. He agreed that they lacked jamming equipment but then he said flares and shaff dispensers were good enough against MANPADS and that they needed these machines in numbers to be useful on the battle field. His viewpoint was that they should be used as a supporting arm to the army not as a strike arm. Well seems after that he kinda got bored with the topic so i left it at that :D

Abhisham

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby Rudra » 28 Jan 2003 19:27

more Mi17Vs are certain - they can be used in mountains. not sure if Mi28N does that. its better to await LAH than fix Mi28N to our needs.

LAH has to be pushed

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Re: Role of armed helicopters in army operations

Postby Vick » 28 Jan 2003 19:51

FWIW, the sight of Mi-35s and Mi-17s armed with gazillions of rockets is not impressive in the least. What would be more impressive (and effective) is if the Mi-35 was armed with 16-20 Nags/Konkurs/Milans and the Mi-17 armed with 24 of the same with each helo having IRST, FLIR, and TV camera along with active IR jammers. Mercifully, they were at least equipped with exhaust dissipators. I am not even talking about MMW based weaps but just the plain old IR and TV based missiles.

Seeing those gargantuan helos armed with only rocket pods made me think of the Chinese Su-27s armed with rocket pods: I.e. gross under-utilization of assets.


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