Exploring the Top Attack Helicopters Utilized by Armies Across the Globe
Acquiring attack helicopters is a significant investment, as they not only come with a high purchase cost but also require expensive maintenance. Due to these reasons, only a limited number of countries possess them. These helicopters are designed specifically for combat situations, but with the emergence of unmanned aerial vehicles, some countries are opting to forgo the use of attack helicopters. As a result, the value and rarity of these helicopters have increased. Read on to explore some of the most impressive attack helicopters that are still in use today.
The Aérospatiale Gazelle helicopter is primarily utilized for surveillance, light transportation, and light attack missions. It was the first helicopter to feature a fenestron tail rotor and is manufactured in both France and the UK. This helicopter has a passenger capacity of up to five individuals. At the same time, its armed variant is outfitted with a 20mm cannon or four wire-guided anti-tank missiles for forward-firing capabilities. Presently, approximately 20 countries continue to operate the Aérospatiale Gazelle.
Agusta A129 Mangusta
Manufactured by the Italian company Agusta, the Agusta A129 Mangusta helicopter is an attack helicopter renowned for being the first of its kind to be entirely designed and produced in Europe. It is especially effective in targeting tanks. At present, the Italian Army and the Turkish Army are the primary operators of this helicopter. Its capabilities include surveillance, high-value ground-target engagement, fire support, air threat suppression, escort, and armed reconnaissance.
AH-64E Apache Guardian
The AH-64E, popularly known as the Apache Guardian, is regarded as the top-of-the-line attack helicopter and the latest version of the AH-64 helicopter. It is a crucial component of most military arsenals. The Apache Guardian is the most extensively deployed attack helicopter worldwide, with a more potent engine and improved transmissions. It is expected to remain in service until 2048.
Bell AH-1 SuperCobra
Originally developed as an upgrade to the Bell Cobra towards the end of the Vietnam War, the Bell AH-1 SuperCobra has become a staple of the US Marine Corps helicopter fleet. With its twin engines, this attack helicopter has also been utilized by the Islamic Republic of Iran Army Aviation, the Turkish Army and Navy, and the Republic of China Army.
Bell AH-17 Viper
The Bell AH-17 Viper, also known as the Zulu Cobra, is the latest attack helicopter model from Bell. After testing in 2010, the US Marine Corps declared it combat-ready and authorized full production. It is currently in use by the US Marine Corps, the Royal Bahraini Air Force, and the Czech Air Force. With a cruising speed of 180 mph and a combat range of 125 miles, the Bell AH-17 Viper is a formidable addition to any military’s arsenal.
Bell UH-1 Iroquois
The Bell UH-1 Iroquois, commonly known as “Huey,” is a helicopter utilized by over 10 countries worldwide. During the Vietnam War, Hueys were first designated as HU-1, hence the nickname. Apart from military use, they are also widely utilized for disaster relief and coastal surveillance. Hueys can be armed with 7.2mm machine guns and rocket pods.
Black Hawk Utility Helicopter UH/HH-60
The Black Hawk UH/HH-60 is one of the most recognizable attack helicopters, largely due to its appearance in the Oscar-winning 2001 film Black Hawk Down. It serves as the US Army’s utility tactical transport helicopter. It can be used for a variety of purposes, such as general support, air assault, command and control, aeromedical evacuation, and special operations support. Since the army began using the Black Hawk Utility Helicopter UH/HH-60, their mobility has vastly improved.
Boeing AH-64D Apache
The AH-64D Apache, manufactured by Boeing, is widely recognized as one of the most accomplished and dependable attack helicopters of all time. Since 1975, this anti-armor attack helicopter has been in production and is presently being utilized by 17 nations worldwide. This twin turboshaft helicopter, equipped with a tailwheel landing gear arrangement, is outfitted with night vision systems and a nose-mounted sensor for target acquisition.
CAIC WZ-10 Fierce Thunderbolt
The CAIC WZ-10, nicknamed Fierce Thunderbolt, is a medium-sized attack helicopter designed by the Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation (CAIC) primarily for the Chinese military. Its primary function is anti-tank warfare, but it is also effective in air-to-air combat. Equipped with advanced electronic warfare systems, it is currently used by the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force and Air Force Airborne Corps.
The South African Air Force currently utilizes an attack helicopter produced by Denel Aviation called the Rooivalk, which translates to “Red Falcon” in Afrikaans. Despite its compact appearance, this combat support helicopter is capable of delivering a powerful attack. The Rooivalk is well-suited for armed scout missions and has been utilized for several peacekeeping missions in South Africa. The South African Air Force has a total of 12 units in its fleet.