Fighting Helicopters – Defense News Yesterday News

The problem of fighting helicopters was put on the agenda in the so-called local wars of the 1970s. At this time, the first steps were taken to solve it. According to the press in other countries, the fighters of the People’s Liberation Front used wires over trees, barely visible obstacles placed in the possible landing areas, and targeted action mines to destroy the US helicopters in South Vietnam. All of these passive measures and tactical procedures only became effective when the helicopters were flying low or about to land.

The war in the Middle East (1973) showed that the number of tactical procedures for using the helicopter has increased significantly. Attacks against armored equipment and other targets without getting within range of the enemy’s anti-aircraft weapons, as well as surprise attacks from very low levels, were extremely effective.
In confrontational situations that were generated in experimental tactical exercises, the losses in helicopters were always many times lower than in armaments. According to the referees, in a five-day Soviet tactical exercise, the yellow side helicopters deactivated 200 tanks, 6 support helicopters due to a fire, two tactical warplanes, several reconnaissance and multipurpose helicopters, and large numbers of the blue side vehicles. Meanwhile, the yellow side’s losses were only four helicopters.
Nevertheless, the very high efficiency of the helicopter is shown as a universal fire system that, compared to other devices, offers unprecedented possibilities of observation, mobility, choice of time and space to deliver blows. The programs for creating the combat helicopters of the future envisage increasing their firepower, vitality and ability to act at any time.

All of this aggravates the problem of fighting helicopters and forces the use of practically all manned weapons in the troops for this purpose.


From a tactical and organizational point of view, specialists from other countries suggest optimizing the system for locating helicopters and warning the troops. Particular attention is paid to the experience with special mobile radar devices with high properties for the detection and tracking of low-flying targets. It is important to determine in advance the possible directions of attack of the helicopters, to advance the front line of surveillance of the radars in the direction of the enemy as far as possible, the locations of the anti-aircraft weapons are covered with small blind spots and as close as possible to the units.
Since short-range anti-aircraft weapons are on the tactical level, it is assumed that it is precisely at this level that the helicopter control system must be organized in its entirety. It is considered expedient to place the missile assemblies directly on the device of the small units of ground forces and to move them together with them. It is also useful to have special anti-aircraft weapons for fighting helicopters that appear surprising. To accomplish this task, the missile assemblies mounted on the chassis of tanks, infantry combat vehicles and machine guns are very effective, have the necessary vitality and mobility, and can provide continuous air defense to troops in dynamic modes. of the fight.

Photo: Vietnamese soldiers on board a Bell 205 forward. The Vietnam War was an important test for the helicopter.

Some armies are conducting experiments with anti-tank projectiles to combat helicopters, and steps are being taken to create a combined system of short-range weapons (missiles) effective in fighting armored ground vehicles, aircraft and helicopters at low altitude.
The use of artillery is planned to destroy the helicopters in areas close to the enemy’s leading edge. It is also considered expedient to erect anti-aircraft barriers using high-explosive shells and fragments. Helicopters that land or are once on the ground can be destroyed by direct fire from all cannons, flamethrowers and targeted action mines.
Even so, in the fight against helicopters, all ground forces weapons are as valuable as aviation. However, the full solution to the problem continues to grow as the characteristics and operating procedures of helicopters are optimized. Indeed, helicopters that attack at low altitude and at distances of 3 to 5 kilometers are virtually invulnerable to fire anti-ground weapons. The situation is similar when the helicopters are scattered or operate in small groups.


Because of this, there was a need to develop a weapon that could match the helicopter in terms of firepower, tactical procedures, etc. Logic and historical experience teach us that this weapon is also the helicopter. Just as the tank was and is the most effective weapon in the fight against the tank, the helicopter is one of the most efficient means in the fight against helicopters. When these devices are used en masse by both sides, their confrontations are inevitable. For this reason, like the chariot battles of past wars, battles between helicopters are possible and inevitable when confronting armies equipped with modern equipment.
When considering the problem of using the helicopter in combat against its racing brother, the specialists assume that the helicopters must carry appropriate defensive weapons and be adapted for combat against air combat. The attack helicopters must have powerful weapons to destroy the aerial targets, to fight their counterparts and to repel the attacks of the fighters.

Photo: A Sikorsky S-61 in action. If you

There are currently two considerations for the development of attack helicopters. The development of a universal attack apparatus that can assist units and small units in combat between weapons by fire, destroy tanks and other armored vehicles and fight effectively against helicopters of the same type and even against aircraft in the air is being considered. chase the enemy. The other takes a more distant perspective and envisages a differentiated development of attack helicopters to support units and small units of ground forces with fire. Counter-armor specially designed to destroy tanks and other armored targets; Hunt down enemy helicopters and other aerial targets.
The supporters of the second position recall historical experiences and are of the opinion that all universal weapons lose some effectiveness in the fulfillment of a certain combat mission. At the same time, specialization offers great opportunities for improving the weapon system and the most effective tactical procedures. It is assumed that there will be a great need for a single-seat attack helicopter for aerial combat in the future. It is estimated that such a device is light, fast, maneuverable, and capable of carrying cannons and air-to-air missiles.

The requirements that combat helicopters have to meet are becoming increasingly strict. The most important are the ability to follow the terrain day and night at extremely low levels, quickly vary the altitude and speed of flight, do aerial acrobatics to avoid the effects of anti-aircraft weapons, and attack ground targets. and Areos.
Due to the experience of local wars in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, military specialists in other countries believe that the helicopter, which flies at very low altitude and maneuvers skillfully, is less vulnerable than the classic airplane. The helicopter’s high maneuverability enables it to evade combat attacks by exploiting features in the terrain, in river beds, forests and other shelters and launching a surprise attack from a specific direction.


The most effective weapons carried by attack helicopters are the guided anti-tank projectile, the automatic 20-30 mm cannon. and omnidirectional projectiles. The cannon that enables fire on land and air targets is preferred. However, the cannon installed on the helicopter is not effective enough to fight enemy fighters. For this reason, some armies are investigating the possibility of attaching air-to-air missiles to the helicopter.

Photo: Transport helicopters like this Sikorsky are easy prey for their racing brothers.

Different action variants of the helicopter equipped with these missiles are analyzed. For example, to avoid the gunshots of the attacking aircraft, the helicopter can fly to hit it at a low altitude. This reduces the resistance of the helicopter under fire from the aircraft, which must come out of the attack in order not to hit the ground. As soon as the fighter flies over the helicopter, it turns 180 degrees and launches a missile.
Taking into account the features of modern combat between weapons, we can assume that the combat between helicopters, as well as between rotary wing aircraft and aircraft, will take place more often when the attack helicopters cover the attacking ground units and carry out missions to destroy the posts of command, nuclear weapons, helicopters on the ground and other goals. In all of these cases, helicopter gunships can conduct aerial target destruction missions by working with ground weapons.
When helicopters are specifically used to fight their enemy counterparts, they can set ambushes: wait in cloaks for the enemy’s air strike, and when the attack occurs, climb and launch the missiles by surprise. This procedure is most commonly used in defensive combat. On the offensive, other more determined and dynamic procedures are used.
It is obvious that the problem of fighting helicopters is solved on the basis of the integral use of ground weapons and various tactical procedures. The battle between helicopters becomes an essential part of the modern battle between weapons and is fought both in cooperation with ground weapons and autonomously between small helicopter units and between aircraft.

Defense Magazine No. 21, January 1980, M. Belov

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