Sunday, September 27, 2009

United States Army AH-64 attack helicopter

AH-64s are scheduled to deploy in the early phase of most scenarios, especially when the U.S. forces may confront an armored or mechanized threat.

the AH-64 is the United States Army‘s most advanced attack helicopter and is armed with an array of firepower that includes a 30mm machine guns and the capability to carry up to 16 Hellfire anti-armor missiles or a combination of rockets and Hellfires. Under high demand for their versatility, precision, and lethality, the AH-64 is a tried and proven day and night tank killer with excellent tactical range, target standoff and loiter time. Its capabilities enhance, complement, and support air to ground platforms, that can carry a wide array of air-to-ground ordnance.

These missions include attacking tanks under trees or in partial hull defilade--meaning that only the turret, or a portion of the turret, can be acquired or engaged. Other missions include precision engagements of targets with high collateral damage potential, engaging mobile targets, and operating in weather conditions that would strain the capabilities of USAF air-to-ground platforms. When employed symbiotically within AEF strike packages, the AH-64‘s tactical advantages can be maximized and it vulnerabilities reduced. By integrating the AEF‘s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms into a package of deep strike interdiction aircraft and other air-to-ground weapons, such as the A- 10, the AH-64 can attack targets based on its unique capabilities.

There are many similarities between Air Force and Army Aviation tactics for conducting ground operations. For example, AH-64s best support Army ground combat forces by establishing the operational conditions that will either preclude a close fight or severely degrade an adversary‘s combat power prior to his closure with the friendly ground force. Much like USAF interdiction platforms, Apaches are best employed in an interdiction role, massed against enemy formations or other targets that facilitate enemy maneuver, when they are most vulnerable to attack in space and time. Apaches can perform a close air support role but optimally, Army Aviation planners should strive to employ them in ways that mitigate the need for last minute close air support missions.

area of operations December 1998 is one clear example. For Desert Fox and for the deployments and contingency plans that preceded it (such as Desert Thunder in January 1998), AH-64s were an important aspect of the plan. A CONUS based battalion was alerted and deployed to the theater prior to the execution of contingency operations to counter to any Iraqi reaction threatening Kuwait. Much like during Operation Desert Storm the Apache, and its 16 Hellfire anti-armor missiles would have proven highly lethal against enemy forces massed in the desert. Minimal combat ground forces were initially deployed for either Desert Thunder or Desert Fox. The intention was to use AH-64s for interdiction attacks, rather than close air support during ground combat operations. If ground operations had been necessary, the AH-64s would have been integrated into the ground tactical plan, but in the initial phase of the operation were allocated to support air operations.


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