Attack Helicopters vs low level CAS Aircraft vs Medium Interdictors

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Seeing today how good low level "trashfire" is becoming, ie MANPADS, AAA and SHORADS, they greatly reduce survivability of many low level aircraft

So are Attack Helicopters like Apaches, Tigers, etc and low level CAS aircraft like SU-25 and A-10s outdated? For most part yes, why?

When you compare Attack Helicopters and low level CAS aircraft, the low level CAS aircraft are much more survivable. They may have a bigger IR signature, but an aircraft like the Su-39 can haul a bigger load, across a greater range, at a much faster speed than ANY other attack helicopter and is probably cheaper to maintain than a Mi-28 or an Apache. The only advantages I see that these Attack Helicopters offer is their ability to operate from anywhere, however an aircraft like Su-39 needs at least a short unprepared airfield, plus it's range and speed makes up for it. However, both Attack Helicopters and these CAS aircraft at low level are really exposed to low level trashfire. We've seen B-52s and many other aircraft like F-15s, F-16s and whatever drop JDAM type weapons from a medium/high altitude, accurately and untouchable by low level airdefenses blowing armoured columns out of this earth.

So whats the best for future when it comes to destroying armoured tank columns and such? Probably Multirole fighters like the Mig-29M/SMT, F-16C/D, Su-30MK, M2K-5 and others dropping PGMs.

According to various sources, the Apache costs a similar ammount as an F-16 to operate, and judging from recent purchases, it costs as much as an F-16C/D to purchase.

So if your airforce and army have a choice of purchasing aircraft, to settle various roles, would you pick 10 F-16s or 5 F-16s+5 Apaches? I am sure anyone would take 10 F-16C/Ds which will provide much more versatility and capability than 5 F-16s+5 Apaches.

So aircraft from medium level dropping PGMs seems to be the way in the future, and no wonder USAF is replacing A-10s with F-35Bs.

Another substitute to multirole fighters are either jet trainers or turbo props. A trainer like the Yak-130 or M-346 can haul quite a load, something like 3000kg on 9 hardpoints and over a bigger range and speed than any Attack Helicopter can match. They at best need short and semi prepared airfields. An even cheaper substitute is something like the Super Tucano/PC-21, which can operate from short unprepared airfields. Arm it with weapons like Paveway series LGBs, KAB-250(GPS or Laser), JDAM(modified to hit moving targets), Brimstone, Hermes, SDB, and WHATEVER and give it some UAV support, FLIR or whatever and let it hit armoured tank columns from medium altitude

So what are the advantages of medium altitude fixed wing aircraft vs low altitude aircraft:
-Travelling at higher altitude increases your range and such, while a low altitude aircraft like an Su-39 will always be flying low.
-Much more survivable, they are not exposed to AAA, MANPADS and SHORADS

In case vs Attack Helicopters
-They always have longer range, bigger payload and are much faster
-Fixed Wing aircraft can perform many more missions that Attack Helicopters cannot, such as Air Defense, Anti-Shipping, Recoinassance and whatever.

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"An even cheaper substitute is something like the Super Tucano/PC-21, which can operate from short unprepared airfields. Arm it with weapons like Paveway series LGBs, KAB-250(GPS or Laser), JDAM(modified to hit moving targets), Brimstone, Hermes, SDB, and WHATEVER and give it some UAV support, FLIR or whatever and let it hit armoured tank columns from medium altitude"

Propeller driven trainers were not safe in 1969 to fly into areas that had real trash-fire defenses and I would venture they still are not. Yeah they can do the job on people with nothing better then rifle caliber GPMGs and pistols pointed in the air but once there are real defenses like radar assisted AAA and MANPADs they are not the best tool for the job. Defenses have only gotten better since 1969 such as improved man portable surface to air missiles. Add that to rather slow speeds, less defensive systems and a smaller payload then a real combat air plane...and you get something suited to bombing people running around with SMLEs and not tanks backed up with AAA defenses....

And of course helicopters seem to work so much better for expeditionary warfare and anti tank duties compared to propeller driven planes. Well not only can the helicopter make good use of terrain but they can operate many places such as off the deck of an amphi ship unlike a trainer. The damage suffered to Apaches in OIF was due to tactics used by the crews. The USMC moved while shooting and did much better in terms of getting shot to pieces with RPG-7s.

For what it is worth I would take super sonic fighter bombers like the F-16 or Mirage 2000 and attack helicopters like the AH-1, AH-64 (and others) to take out a tank column as my first picks....

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as troung has pointed out, the failure of Apaches that fateful day in OIF was not due to the helicopters themselves, but due to tactics. also, Apaches were never designed for action in deserts, which are flat. any soldier on the ground has an unobstructed 360 degree view of the airspace for miles around him. and the Apache has nowhere to hide, except perhaps behind the occasional sand dune.

the true home of the Apache is in forested areas - the West German forest areas around the Fulda Gap especially. a look at Apache operations doctrine for West German operations is instructive. Most of the time the Apaches would be safely inside friendly territory far behind the FEBA - forward edge of battle area. They would shoot off their 8km-range Hellfires at incoming tanks from here - 8km away from the nearest enemy units and out of range of trashfire/AAA/MANPADS.

also the doctrine called for Apaches to stay extremely low, via either Contour or Nap-of-the-earth (NOE) flight regimes. in contour flying, the choppers flew just above the treetops, while NOE called for choppers to actually fly AROUND the trees. that low. As such they would have been hardly visible to the enemy, popping up only to acquire and fire Hellfires. In fact, the Longbow versions can acquire, sort and designate targets while still behind cover. When used ideally, the Apache is thus hardly exposed to enemy vision - let alone enemy fire - at all!

do note that no other aircraft - A-10, Su-39, F-16, even PC-21 - can do this.

of course, there must be trees to hide behind in the first place. that is why we in Singapore bought 20 Apaches. for operations in the malaysian jungle and palm/rubber plantations, which is the perfect environment for them.

the success of Apaches in the 1st Gulf War, and indeed the fact that 30 of 32 Apaches did get back despite getting horrifically shot up that day in OIF, shows the Apache is still an excellent design, despite being used in unsuitable environments. of course, IMO they could have cut their losses by going in at night - where enemies can't see to point their trashfire and MANPADS while the Apaches can see with their thermal imagers and Longbow and own them.

Srbin's points are very good ones indeed... but i'm just saying the attack helicopter isn't obsolete like some people say. it still has its place.

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Propeller driven trainers were not safe in 1969 to fly into areas that had real trash-fire defenses and I would venture they still are not. Yeah they can do the job on people with nothing better then rifle caliber GPMGs and pistols pointed in the air but once there are real defenses like radar assisted AAA and MANPADs they are not the best tool for the job. Defenses have only gotten better since 1969 such as improved man portable surface to air missiles. Add that to rather slow speeds, less defensive systems and a smaller payload then a real combat air plane...and you get something suited to bombing people running around with SMLEs and not tanks backed up with AAA defenses....

And of course helicopters seem to work so much better for expeditionary warfare and anti tank duties compared to propeller driven planes. Well not only can the helicopter make good use of terrain but they can operate many places such as off the deck of an amphi ship unlike a trainer. The damage suffered to Apaches in OIF was due to tactics used by the crews. The USMC moved while shooting and did much better in terms of getting shot to pieces with RPG-7s.


I am talking about operation of turbo props, JTs, and multirole fighters/strikers from MEDIUM altitude. You missed the point there.


as troung has pointed out, the failure of Apaches that fateful day in OIF was not due to the helicopters themselves, but due to tactics. also, Apaches were never designed for action in deserts, which are flat. any soldier on the ground has an unobstructed 360 degree view of the airspace for miles around him. and the Apache has nowhere to hide, except perhaps behind the occasional sand dune.

the true home of the Apache is in forested areas - the West German forest areas around the Fulda Gap especially. a look at Apache operations doctrine for West German operations is instructive. Most of the time the Apaches would be safely inside friendly territory far behind the FEBA - forward edge of battle area. They would shoot off their 8km-range Hellfires at incoming tanks from here - 8km away from the nearest enemy units and out of range of trashfire/AAA/MANPADS.

also the doctrine called for Apaches to stay extremely low, via either Contour or Nap-of-the-earth (NOE) flight regimes. in contour flying, the choppers flew just above the treetops, while NOE called for choppers to actually fly AROUND the trees. that low. As such they would have been hardly visible to the enemy, popping up only to acquire and fire Hellfires. In fact, the Longbow versions can acquire, sort and designate targets while still behind cover. When used ideally, the Apache is thus hardly exposed to enemy vision - let alone enemy fire - at all!

do note that no other aircraft - A-10, Su-39, F-16, even PC-21 - can do this.

of course, there must be trees to hide behind in the first place. that is why we in Singapore bought 20 Apaches. for operations in the malaysian jungle and palm/rubber plantations, which is the perfect environment for them.

the success of Apaches in the 1st Gulf War, and indeed the fact that 30 of 32 Apaches did get back despite getting horrifically shot up that day in OIF, shows the Apache is still an excellent design, despite being used in unsuitable environments. of course, IMO they could have cut their losses by going in at night - where enemies can't see to point their trashfire and MANPADS while the Apaches can see with their thermal imagers and Longbow and own them.

Srbin's points are very good ones indeed... but i'm just saying the attack helicopter isn't obsolete like some people say. it still has its place.


IMO, I'd still give this job to something like medium altitude aircraft. IMO Attack helicopter's advantages in dense forests and mountains and such as you described like that of Germany and Malaysia are not much of an advantage, considering a soldier carrying a MANPAD or RPG can sneak up anywhere undetected and actually fire it at the Attack Helicopter. Why do you think US didnt deploy Apaches in Kosovo back in 99? They obviously knew they would suffer quite some hefty losses, and on top of all their chances of finding scattered tanks were not any greater than that of a low flying A-10 or a high flying JSTARS, Fighter or UAV or whatever.

As for Iraq, the Apaches were used in a COIN type of mission, they suffered terribly from small arms fire, not from AAA or SHORADS or whatever. IMO if they actually faced a properly equipped enemy with something like good SHORADS and such, they wouldnt have survived for very long.

And if you want some Attack capabilities for your helicopters, many countries out there operate and continue to buy helicopters such as MD500, Mi-17, UH-60s and such, and they can all carry quite a few ATGMs. Hell the little MD500 which is the quietest helicopter out there, can carry up to 8 SPIKE-ERs and the UH-60 and Mi-17 probably more. Of course they cannot designate their targets as well as other Attack helicopters specially for that role, but the point is these helicopters are already in a lot of the airforces, why not just spend a few extra bucks and arm them if you really want a nice little attack helicopter capability.

But anyways, I would still prefer my AF's AJTs/Turbo Props(both of these will be operated by any Airforce) or Fighters or whatever from a medium altitude striking armoured tank columns. They are always already there, and I wouldnt waste money on Attack Helicopters, just buy a fewer more AJTs/Fighters which can even perform even more roles. Give these something like FLIR, or UAV support or anything of that sort and let them shoot down.

I would not allow the AJTs/Fighters or especially the turbo props to go down low, but if my forces are really deadlocked and such, I wouldnt mind them going low once in a while.

Look at it this way. For a single 50 mn Apache, I could probably get instead a single F-16, and probably up to 3 L-159As or maybe up to like 10 Super Tucanos.

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You don't need to look at 21st Century wafare to realise that attack helicopters is vulnerable to MANPADS, AAAs or SHORADS, the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan during the 80's demonstrated this. So if I have to chose, I would defintely go for multirole fighters but not attack choppers.

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You don't need to look at 21st Century wafare to realise that attack helicopters is vulnerable to MANPADS, AAAs or SHORADS, the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan during the 80's demonstrated this. So if I have to chose, I would defintely go for multirole fighters but not attack choppers.

Very true, they lost what, over 300 helicopters in all? Not only there, but there have been quite a lot of incidents where Helicopters were shot down easily by RPGs, MANPADS, AAA/SHORADS and such.

I just feel Attack Helicopters are too role limited, they are expensive to buy and maintain for the capability they offer.

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And again Afghanistan was not the perfect place for the attack helicopter. High alltitudes and no cover. Add the new threat of Stingers and you will get the results they got. Add that to the fact the the Mil-24 is a very different design then the AH-64 and use a very different doctrine.

In OIF the helicopters failed, when they were not properly used. You don´t fly helicopters into a huge formation of enemy troops. And you don´t fly lazy circles over built up areas. Sometimes you have to do this, when your ground troops need your support, but we have also seen F-15s using their 20mm in a ground attack role in OIF.
Futhermore the desert it not the optimal place for the attack helo. Add to the fact that the US army has a tendency to play BI with their AH-64s (just to show that they can do it without the airforce) and you have a failure waiting to happen.

The attack helicopter is not suited to fly missions deep behind enemy lines - period.

However it is still an excellen tool to help your troops. It is the fastest, most mobile and deadliest anti tank platform available to a modern ammo. It is also your fastest, most precise and mobile fire support platform. No other plattform can give precision guided fire in support of the ground troops with that acuracy and reaction time.

A attack helicopter operating over friendly troops in wooded or built up terrain is nearly impossible to hit. I have seen a 4 plane section of PAH-1 training. And even those obsolete helicopters where nearly impossible to spot from well within their engagement range.

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And again Afghanistan was not the perfect place for the attack helicopter. High alltitudes and no cover. Add the new threat of Stingers and you will get the results they got. Add that to the fact the the Mil-24 is a very different design then the AH-64 and use a very different doctrine.

In OIF the helicopters failed, when they were not properly used. You don´t fly helicopters into a huge formation of enemy troops. And you don´t fly lazy circles over built up areas. Sometimes you have to do this, when your ground troops need your support, but we have also seen F-15s using their 20mm in a ground attack role in OIF.
Futhermore the desert it not the optimal place for the attack helo. Add to the fact that the US army has a tendency to play BI with their AH-64s (just to show that they can do it without the airforce) and you have a failure waiting to happen.

The attack helicopter is not suited to fly missions deep behind enemy lines - period.


Not suited for this, not suited for that, it's very limited in what's it suitable for. IMO fighters/AJTs/turbo props are much more flexible and versatile.


However it is still an excellen tool to help your troops. It is the fastest, most mobile and deadliest anti tank platform available to a modern ammo. It is also your fastest, most precise and mobile fire support platform. No other plattform can give precision guided fire in support of the ground troops with that acuracy and reaction time.

A attack helicopter operating over friendly troops in wooded or built up terrain is nearly impossible to hit. I have seen a 4 plane section of PAH-1 training. And even those obsolete helicopters where nearly impossible to spot from well within their engagement range.


It's because it operates so close to the troops, therefore it's reaction time is good. But it's other disadvantages compared to other platforms makes me wonder, are they really worth it. If I really need some anti-tank capabilities down low, I could always arm a few of my transports like Mi-17s, UH-60s, MD500s and whatever.
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....and when you send an AH-64 into the battleground, this is how they come out sometimes...

Got back to base but didn't look good....
Amazing the survivability of the Apache, even if it is vulnerable to ground fire.

TNZ

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The future of CAS is neither the helicopter, nor the thin-skinned fastmover.

On the traditional "battle line" still prefered by the U.S. Army (because they are incapable of maneuver warfare, let alone a theatre-wide (air)mobile landbattle in the depths of the enemy hinterland) the tool of choice is the tactical UCAV, and foremost long range (rocket) artillery firing PGM submunition. There might be for a couple of years still a role for manned aircraft as AFAC.

On the more modern (or perhaps better: more technologically and tactically adequate) and flexible battlefield like the special forces prefer, CAS will be provided by heavy UCAVs and for the next couple of years still by the B-52 with PGMs.

And regarding the potential flexibility of basing helicopters closer to the action and therefore having a lower see-shoot latency: Rarely you have enough heavy cargo helicopters to utilize that potential.

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It's doubtful that any single weapons system- artillery, attack helicopters, UCAVs, AC-130s or other special purpose aircraft, fighters- will become the dominant source of support fire. Each is going to have capabilities that the other does not, so the army is going to want to have access to some of each.

It's also far too early to know the actual value of UCAVs in modern combat because 1) they've barely started the path of development, and 2) they haven't been used in a high threat combat environment against an enemy with the technical prowess to develop countermeasures against their use. I suspect they'll have their uses, but no doubt they'll have weaknesses that can be exploited as well.

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The attack helicopter originally was an organic airborne fire support tool for the ground forces. It could reach were ground based artillery could not and it could deliver its ordonance with more precision and more safety to friendly forces.

And it is a much needed excort for tranport helicopters, as well as a higjly mobile and modern recon asset.

In that role it is here to stay for decades.

It is not a BFI tool or a deep penetration striker. Nor is it a replacement of CAS delivered by conventional airplanes.

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This seems to be a rather redundant argument. As others have stated the system types listed have various capabilities that the others do not. Srbin, you seem to be adament about attack helicopters not being any good, but it seems no one in the military organizations around the world seems to agree with you. You simply cannot change the fact that helicopters offer a fast forward-based response that land-based (or carrier-based) aircraft (aside from the Harrier of course) cannot match. Helicopters are also a much better anti-tank platform than fixed-wing jets like an F-15E. Sure, an F-15 can drop a JDAM and hit one or maybe two tanks with collateral damage, but when you have a Cobra or Apache with at least 8 Hellfires, that's an entire column of tanks taken out within seconds. Also, as others have pointed out (I've pointed this out before, but no one seemed to listen), it was tactics that hurt the Apache force in OIF, not the helicopter itself. If you look at the statistics, Marine Corps Super Cobras fared much better and still proved to be very deadly to insurgent forces. Heck, the Israeli's have used Apaches and Cobras in an urban warfare environment for years, and they haven't suffered the losses that the U.S. Army did. Why? Because they used the right tactics.

As far as multi-role fighters are concerned yes they are supremly capable of raining down destruction, and they can do it very accurately whether it's a JDAM from a USAF F-15, a Paveway from a Turkish F-4, or a WCMD from a USN F/A-18, and overall they will do a much larger share of the ground-pounding. Their attacks are geared more towards larger concentrations of targets on both the strategic and tactical levels. Helicopters and planes like the Su-25 are still much more effective at supporting the ground forces, when the going gets tough.

I also like the idea of aircraft in the class of planes like the ALX and PC-21. They are relatively cheap to operate, don't require much in the way of a prepared runway, they can carry a large variety of weapon types (at least the ALX can), they are much faster than helicopters as well as being more agile, and (at least in the case of the ALX) they can operate in night conditions just as effectively as an Apache, and they aren't as noisy as the AH-64 to boot. I guarentee you that an ALX with GBU-12's and the crew having NVG's is going to be a very effective attacker. Flying at night eliminates most small-arms as well as some portion of the MANPAD's threat. Aircraft like the ALX already have a very low heat signature. And I believe they can be fitted with chaff/flare dispensers as well. Granted, I wouldn't take an ALX into enemy territory defended by SA-6's's, Hawk's, or S-300's, but I think in lower intensity conflicts if you use it correctly an aircraft in that class can be quite effective. Clearly the Brazilians see some promise in it, and I like that idea. Armed with MAA-1 Piranha's, the ALX is also quite a potent helicopter killer. Would be an ideal aircraft to disrupt enemy helicopter assault operations.

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The problem with ALX like planes is that you still have the very hot exhaust from the turbine and you can´t fit a large cooling system like on a hleicopter. The heat signature is comparable to a single C-130 engine. And even worse the exhaust is up front near the cockpit.

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This seems to be a rather redundant argument. As others have stated the system types listed have various capabilities that the others do not. Srbin, you seem to be adament about attack helicopters not being any good, but it seems no one in the military organizations around the world seems to agree with you. You simply cannot change the fact that helicopters offer a fast forward-based response that land-based (or carrier-based) aircraft (aside from the Harrier of course) cannot match. Helicopters are also a much better anti-tank platform than fixed-wing jets like an F-15E. Sure, an F-15 can drop a JDAM and hit one or maybe two tanks with collateral damage, but when you have a Cobra or Apache with at least 8 Hellfires, that's an entire column of tanks taken out within seconds. Also, as others have pointed out (I've pointed this out before, but no one seemed to listen), it was tactics that hurt the Apache force in OIF, not the helicopter itself. If you look at the statistics, Marine Corps Super Cobras fared much better and still proved to be very deadly to insurgent forces. Heck, the Israeli's have used Apaches and Cobras in an urban warfare environment for years, and they haven't suffered the losses that the U.S. Army did. Why? Because they used the right tactics.

As far as multi-role fighters are concerned yes they are supremly capable of raining down destruction, and they can do it very accurately whether it's a JDAM from a USAF F-15, a Paveway from a Turkish F-4, or a WCMD from a USN F/A-18, and overall they will do a much larger share of the ground-pounding. Their attacks are geared more towards larger concentrations of targets on both the strategic and tactical levels. Helicopters and planes like the Su-25 are still much more effective at supporting the ground forces, when the going gets tough.


yes but their advantage to operate from anywhere is not that great, because fixed wing aircraft like the Turbo Props(can operate from unprepared airfields), AJTs(from semi/unprepared) and fighters(usually from prepapred airfields) have a much longer range, are faster and usually have much higher endurance that they can be flying from an airfield some 300kms and they will probably get there faster than an Attack Helicopter flying 50kms away from the battlefield, and they will be able to loiter much longer and haul a bigger load. Not only that, but an Attack Helicopter operating so closely to the battlefield is rather vulnerable to a lot of things, for example artillery.

As for Apache or Mi-28N having a load of some 16 Hellfires of Vikhrs, imo this may be quite a large load, but I'd rather take an F-16C/D armed with some 6 500lb JDAMs flying at a medium altitude. It may not pack as much punch, but I sure will have it out of harms way, and not only that but I can make my F-16s do many other things.

See the thing with Attack Helicopters is
-They operate at a lower level, much like other low level CAS aircraft, they become exposed to many SHORADS, AAA and MANPADS which are very lethal today
-They may be able to operate from anywhere, but that advantage is rather limited because fixed wing aircraft have much longer endurance, range, payload and such. This advantage only counts on ships, but for example they usually operate from Aircraft Carriers right? and Fixed Wing aircraft can be operated from here
-Attack Helicopters are SO role restricted and not very cost effective. An Apache compared to an F-16, can only do CAS and COIN pretty much, while an aircraft like the F-16C/D for the SAME cost can do so many more things, and much better imo.

I don't think Attack Helicopters are useless in any way, but they just are not very good imo.

Just look at the scenario. Would you want a single F-16 or a single Apache for armoured tank busting. You can arm an Apache with up to 16 Hellfires, while the F-16C/D may be armed with AshMs, AAMs, all kinds of missiles and bombs, stand off weapons, CBUs(which can do a ****load of damage, weapons like WCMD) and many others.

Like I said, I dont think Attack Helicopters are useless, but when compared to other platforms they are much better.


I also like the idea of aircraft in the class of planes like the ALX and PC-21. They are relatively cheap to operate, don't require much in the way of a prepared runway, they can carry a large variety of weapon types (at least the ALX can), they are much faster than helicopters as well as being more agile, and (at least in the case of the ALX) they can operate in night conditions just as effectively as an Apache, and they aren't as noisy as the AH-64 to boot. I guarentee you that an ALX with GBU-12's and the crew having NVG's is going to be a very effective attacker. Flying at night eliminates most small-arms as well as some portion of the MANPAD's threat. Aircraft like the ALX already have a very low heat signature. And I believe they can be fitted with chaff/flare dispensers as well. Granted, I wouldn't take an ALX into enemy territory defended by SA-6's's, Hawk's, or S-300's, but I think in lower intensity conflicts if you use it correctly an aircraft in that class can be quite effective. Clearly the Brazilians see some promise in it, and I like that idea. Armed with MAA-1 Piranha's, the ALX is also quite a potent helicopter killer. Would be an ideal aircraft to disrupt enemy helicopter assault operations.

I dont think these little turbo props can pack as much of a punch as an Apache with 16 hellfires or Mi-28N with 16 Vikhrs, but these little turbo props costs like 5-10mn at most, while an Apache costs 4-5 times more.

Of course, the Super Tucano has 5 hardpoints and a payload of 1500kg. I could fit it with Brimstones, JDAMs, Hermes, Nimrod, SDB, CBUs such as WCMD or SPBE-D and whatever, and they can pack quite a punch. They can find and destroy targets via FLIR, other Airborne Recoinassance platforms such as for ex JSTARS(unlikely) or UAVs, other fighters, pods such as SAPSAN or LITENING and such. I would not send it low altitude.

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ust look at the scenario. Would you want a single F-16 or a single Apache for armoured tank busting. You can arm an Apache with up to 16 Hellfires, while the F-16C/D may be armed with AshMs, AAMs, all kinds of missiles and bombs, stand off weapons, CBUs(which can do a ****load of damage, weapons like WCMD) and many others.

As always, it depends.

If you have a column of tanks in the enemy rearzone riding down a road to the battlefront, then an F-16 with WCMD or sensor-fused munitions will be the best option.

If those tanks are spread over the battlefront engaging your troops, then an Apache is much better. It is much easier to target and track various individual targets (better be moving!) on the battlefield with a near-the-earth attack chopper than with a fast jet at medium heigths.

Plus, while the f-16 might kill a bunch of tanks somewhat near each other with WCMD or similar, it will not be able to engage 16 seperate targets in a single mission ( and I´m not even talking about detecting them all).

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Plus, while the f-16 might kill a bunch of tanks somewhat near each other with WCMD or similar, it will not be able to engage 16 seperate targets in a single mission ( and I´m not even talking about detecting them all).

Exactly what I was trying to point out. Well put I might add.

Srbin, you may not think attack helos are totally useless, but you certainly don't seem to say that with your words. And again, many military organizations the world over don't seem to agree with you.

And why does the Apache have to be the only attack helicopter there is. You keep using the Apache because it's fairly expensive and fits your argument, but the AH-1Z King Cobra (or even the AH-1W Super Cobra) offers the same capabilities as the Apache at a much lower cost...certainly cheaper than any F-16. The Mangusta is another good example. A pretty effective weapon system that's not nearly as expensive as the F-16.

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yep that's precisely what Longbow (both on Apache and Cobra-Z) lets you do. and that's engaging 16 tanks in one mission, SIMULTANEOUSLY.

of course such situations arent going to be common, but it does show AHs are still very capable.

sure AHs are vulnerable, but your turboprop PC-21s etc only go abt 150mph faster than an AH and thus still easy meat for AAA and MANPADS. PC-21 etc are much less protected/armoured/crash-survivable than Apache. and it cant hover/fly NOE/hide behind cover like AHs can. chances are the Apache pilot has a better chance of survival than the turboprop guy. and your typical subsonic AJT is still vulnerable too - plus like the turboprops it cant hover and hide behind trees and buildings like AHs.

$50mil for an Apache? i suppose thats based on sales figures to Netherlands and Singapore, which paid $1bn for 20 choppers. but that's inclusive of ammo, parts, training etc which aint cheap. stock AH-64Ds are around 20-30mil IIRC.

yeah you can still buy a much more flexible F-16 for that, but as phantom, spectral and i have said, you buy AHs to do things F-16 cant do, and there are a hell lot of ppl who think so too and do just that.

It is amusing that some here suggest that helicopters like Apache etc are dead... when ATGMs became efficient they said the same about the tank and the APC. The fact is that a Tank holds ground better than troops on their own and with modern tanks having FCS so sophisticated that helicopters have become valid targets they seem to have only cemented their position since.

Comments like cheap simple prop driven aircraft could perform the role of a Helo or CAS aircraft are quite frankly silly. The whole reason the CAS aircraft and Helo both got heavier and much more costly than when they first flew is because you can't just slap on a few rockets and NVG and say you have an all weather attack system. Aircraft like Apaches are expensive because fo their very sophisticated and capable target aquisition and tracking systems.

Ahhh... but they are vulnerable!!! So what? What on the battlefield is impervious to any weapon? As artillery they are fast and can cover any terrain. They can use existing cover as well as the range of their weapons and sensors but rely on good information from the ground from friendly units and on good tactics. Hovering while firing weapons was found by apaches to be a bad thing... apache pilots learned the difference between cover and concealment... (sitting behind a tree with your mast mounted radar showing looking at targets during training missions sounds great till you realise that third gen Thermal imagers can see the heat and blade tips of your aircraft at very long ranges and an APDSFS round will go through a tree or even 4-5m of dirt if you are hiding behind a hilltop and still have plenty of energy to kill a chopper).

In chechnia the rebels even used ATGMs to destroy helicopters that were hovering to drop off troops at 4km range. The Iraqis don't have very many anti tank weapons so the US has less of a problem there but in other operations elsewhere they have to be prepared. Soviet doctrine made AT weapons standard issue to every unit... from light disposable RPGs to reusable RPG-7s and RPG-29s and up the chain to ATGMs like the AT-13, AT-4, AT-5, to Kornet and other weapons in service.

The solution?
A while back Flex showed a photo of a Ka-50 with turrets near its main undercarriage for a laser based IRCM system... for unguided systems of SACLOS (semi automatic command to line of sight... ie put the crosshair on the target and hold it there till the missile hits it) then you need to spend as little time hovering or moving slow as possible.

The main problem the Russians had was lack of all weather capability, which meant daylight only operations... this will change as all weather helos and helo upgrades are implimented.

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laser IRCM woudn't do much vs APFSDS or AAA. but then i suppose the AH ought to kill the tank/SPAAG in question first. Hellfire has double the range of APFSDS, and JCM quadruples it...

anyway, tank-spotting and killing is much easier for AHs than finding sneaky enemy troopers with MANPADS.