Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2024-04-03

Rise of Indispensable Assets for Modern Warfare

In the culmination of our military helicopter series, we offer an overview of these versatile aerial assets’ pivotal roles in contemporary warfare. It’s important to clarify that our focus is exclusively on the widely utilised helicopters within the mentioned countries, recognising that each nation maintains an extensive fleet beyond our current exploration.

Military Helicopters – Part 10
 
Military helicopters are linchpins in modern warfare, delivering crucial functionalities like mobility, firepower, reconnaissance, and support across a spectrum of military operations. Their adaptability empowers armed forces globally to swiftly deploy troops, conduct combat operations, and provide crucial assistance to ground forces in challenging terrains.
 
Our earlier discussions highlighted the prowess of military helicopters in various capacities, including rapid troop transportation, close air support, reconnaissance, search and rescue, and special operations. These versatile aircraft are also instrumental in anti-submarine warfare, mine countermeasures, and electronic warfare missions.
 
As we draw this series on military helicopters to a close, this final chapter takes centre stage, guiding you through the captivating world of country-specific helicopters. These specialised machines are meticulously crafted to excel in the demanding environments and roles designated by their nation’s defence needs. Here, we embark on a journey to understand their intricate designs, exploring the innovative technologies that empower them to perform exceptional feats. From superior search and rescue capabilities to unmatched logistical support in diverse terrains, these helicopters play a crucial role in shaping the ever-evolving landscape of modern warfare.
 
 Asian Skyfleet
Numerous Asian nations deploy a diverse array of military helicopters, serving various roles such as transport, attack, reconnaissance, and search and rescue. 
 
Russia: Russia boasts a diverse fleet of military helicopters from manufacturers like Mil and Kamov. Notable examples include the Mi-24 Hind (attack helicopter), Mi-8/17 Hip (transport and utility helicopter), and Ka-52 Alligator (attack helicopter).
 
The Mi-8/Mi-17 Hip is a twin-engine multipurpose helicopter crafted by the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant, the Kazan Helicopter Plant, and the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant. Operational in over 50 air forces globally, the Mi-8 comes in various versions, serving both civilian and military needs. 
 
Military variants encompass the Mi-8T transport, VIP transport, electronic warfare, reconnaissance, Mi-8TV armed version, and search and rescue Mi-8MPS. Its enhanced counterpart, the Mi-17, features improved altitude and environmental performance, distinguished by additional air filters and a left-hand side-mounted tail rotor to accommodate more powerful TB-3-117A turboshaft engines.
 
With a climb rate of 8m/s, the Mi-17 achieves maximum and cruise speeds of 250km/h and 225km/h, respectively. The helicopter covers a range of 465km and boasts a service ceiling of 6,000m. Weighing approximately 7,489kg, its maximum take-off weight reaches 13,000kg. 
 
China: China has developed and produced a range of indigenous military helicopters, such as the Z-10 (attack helicopter), Z-20 (transport helicopter), and Z-9 (utility helicopter). They also operate variants of the Russian Mi-8/17 helicopters.
 
India: India deploys a blend of domestically produced and foreign-made military helicopters. Indigenous options comprise the HAL Dhruv (utility helicopter) and HAL Light Combat Helicopter (LCH). Additionally, the fleet includes helicopters from diverse manufacturers, such as the Mi-8/17, Mi-35 (Mi-24 variant), and AH-64E Apache (attack helicopter).
 
Pakistan: Pakistan operates an assortment of helicopters, including the AH-1 Cobra (attack helicopter), Bell 412 (utility helicopter), and AW139 (utility helicopter). It also operates variants of the Russian Mi-8/17 helicopters.
 
South Korea: South Korea operates helicopters such as the KUH-1 Surion (utility helicopter) and the AH-64E Apache Guardian (attack helicopter). They also have older models like the UH-1H Iroquois and MD500 Defender in service. The KUH-1, also known as Surion, is a multi-role utility helicopter primarily developed by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). With world-class hovering capability, Surion boasts modern avionics. 
 
Japan: Japan operates helicopters like the AH-64DJP Apache Longbow (attack helicopter), CH-47 Chinook (transport helicopter), and UH-1J Huey (utility helicopter).
 
Indonesia: Indonesia manages helicopters such as the Bell 412 (utility helicopter), AS565 Panther (anti-submarine warfare/utility helicopter), and Super Puma (transport/utility helicopter).
 
Vietnam: Vietnam deploys helicopters including the Mi-8 Hip (transport/utility), Mi-24 Hind (attack), and EC225 Super Puma (transport/utility).
 
African Aviation Arsenal
Africa’s varied terrain and security demands make military helicopters ideal. With deserts, mountains, jungles, savannas, and coastal regions, helicopters navigate diverse environments, reaching remote areas where ground vehicles face challenges. These aircraft are crucial for enhancing African armed forces’ capacity through training, joint exercises, and cooperation with foreign partners. They foster aviation skills, operational readiness, and tactical proficiency among military personnel.
 
Algeria: Algeria operates military helicopters like Mi-8/17 Hip, Mi-24 Hind, Mi-26 Halo, Mi-28 Havoc and Ka-32.
 
Angola: Angola has military helicopters like Mi-8/17 Hip, Mi-24 Hind, and Mi-171.
 
Chad: Like Angola, Chad too has Mi-8/17 Hip and Mi-24 Hind.
 
Egypt: The Egyptian Armed Forces operate a diverse fleet of military helicopters to support a range of missions. Some of the key types of military helicopters used by Egypt include AH-64 Apache, Mi-8/17 Hip, Mi-24 Hind, Ka-52 Alligator and AH-1 Cobra.
 
Ethiopia: The Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) operates diverse military helicopters, including Mi-8/17 Hip, Mi-35 Hind, AS550 Fennec, and Bell Huey II. Derived from the UH-1 Huey, the Bell Huey II serves utility, troop transport, and medical evacuation roles, valued for its reliability in various military tasks.
 
Kenya: Kenyan Armed Forces widely uses Mil Mi-17 for transport and utility missions. It’s a workhorse helicopter known for its ruggedness and versatility. Other military helicopters used by the Kenyan AF are Mi-17 Hip and MD 500 Defender. 
 
Nigeria: Nigeria uses Mi-24 Hind. Other military helicopters in the arsenal of Nigerian army are Mi-35 Hind and Mi-17 Hip.
 
South Africa: South Africa relies on the indigenous Denel Rooivalk attack helicopter, providing unrivaled firepower and combat support capabilities. With a fleet of twelve in service with the South African Air Force, the Rooivalk has demonstrated success in peacekeeping missions in Africa. It offers day, night, and adverse condition capabilities, featuring a 20mm Turreted Gun, 70mm Rockets, and potential Air-To-Ground and Air-To-Air Missiles. The Oryx serves utility purposes, while the Leonardo AW109 is a favoured helicopter in the South African Air Force. 
 
Sudan: Mi-8/17 Hip and Mi-24 Hind are two helicopters widely used by Sudan Armed Forces. 
 
Tanzania: Tanzania utilises Mi-17 Hip helicopter like most other African countries. It also uses Super Puma, Mi-17 Hip and MD 500 Defender. 
 
Uganda: Uganda uses Mil Mi-24 Hind, Bell 206 JetRanger, Mi-17, Airbus/Eurocopter AS350 Ecureuil and Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin. The AS365 Dauphin is a medium-sized helicopter used for transport, search and rescue, and other utility missions. Airbus stopped production of this legendary helicopter in 2022. 
 
Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe primarily uses Mi-24 Hind and Mi-35 Hind. 
 
Mi-24 Popularity
The Mil Mi-24 Hind, a Russian-made attack helicopter, has gained popularity among African air forces for several reasons. The Mi-24 is a versatile helicopter capable of performing various missions, including ground attack, close air support, troop transport, and reconnaissance. This makes it attractive to African countries with diverse security needs.
 
Durability and ruggedness: African environments can be harsh, with challenging terrain and climates. The Mi-24 is known for its durability and ruggedness, able to operate effectively in tough conditions common in many parts of the continent.
 
It tends to be more affordable both in terms of procurement costs and maintenance. This makes it an attractive option for African countries with limited defence budgets.
 
Availability of surplus: Many former Soviet bloc countries have surplus Mi-24 helicopters, which they are willing to sell or donate to African nations. This availability of second-hand aircraft provides an economical option for African air forces to bolster their capabilities.
 
Heavy firepower: The Mi-24 is well-armed, typically equipped with a combination of cannons, rockets, and anti-tank guided missiles. This heavy firepower is treasured for conducting effective ground attack and counter-insurgency operations, which are common in various parts of Africa.
 
Simplicity of operation: While the Mi-24 is a sophisticated aircraft, it is relatively simple to operate compared to some Western helicopters.
 
Europe Showcase
Europe houses leading helicopter manufacturers such as Airbus, NHI, and Leonardo, crafting a diverse range of rotorcraft for civilian and military use. Let’s explore the helicopter fleets of select European nations.
 
Germany: The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) employs a diverse helicopter fleet for missions like transport, search and rescue, reconnaissance, and special operations. Notable models include the NH90 for various roles, Airbus Helicopters Tiger for attack missions, AS532 Cougar for troop transport and search and rescue, CH-53 Sea Stallion for heavy-lift tasks, and the H145M for versatile roles. Germany utilises the Sikorsky CH-53 for heavy-lift transport duties.
 
France: The French Armed Forces deploy various helicopters, including the H225M Caracal for troop transport, search and rescue, and special operations. The NH90 serves in multi-role configurations, covering transport, search and rescue, and anti-submarine warfare. The EC725 Caracal is a long-range tactical transport helicopter used for troop transport, medical evacuation, and special operations. The AS555 Fennec handles light duties such as reconnaissance and training.

The AS532 Cougar, a medium-sized twin-engine helicopter, is utilised for troop transport, search and rescue, and utility tasks. The SA 330 Puma, historically used for transport and search and rescue, is being replaced by newer models. The Tiger attack helicopter serves the French Army for anti-tank warfare and reconnaissance.
 
United Kingdom: The UK Armed Forces employ various helicopters, including the AW101 Merlin for roles such as anti-submarine warfare, maritime patrol, troop transport, and search and rescue. The Lynx serves the British Army and Royal Navy in roles like reconnaissance, anti-submarine warfare, troop transport, and utility, with the Lynx Wildcat variant replacing older models. 
 
The Boeing AH-64 Apache is operated by the British Army for close air support, anti-tank warfare, and reconnaissance. The Dauphin (H135) aids the Royal Air Force in search and rescue operations, while the Airbus Helicopters H135 Juno and H145 Jupiter serve the British Army for initial and advanced helicopter pilot training, respectively. 
 
The Chinook is a Royal Air Force heavy-lift helicopter for troop and cargo transport and battlefield support. The Puma HC2, another medium-lift helicopter, supports the Royal Air Force in troop transport and various missions.
 
Italy: The Italian Armed Forces deploy diverse helicopters, including the AW101 for maritime patrol, anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, and troop transport.

The AW129 Mangusta serves anti-tank warfare, close air support, and reconnaissance. The Italian Air Force employs the AW139 for search and rescue, troop transport, medical evacuation, and maritime surveillance. The NHIndustries NH90 covers roles like troop transport, search and rescue, anti-submarine warfare, and utility missions. The Italian Air Force and Navy utilise the AB 212 and AB 412 for search and rescue, utility transport, and maritime patrol.
 
Spain: The Spanish Armed Forces, covering the Army, Navy, and Air Force, are key players in national defence and global peacekeeping. Utilising advanced technology, they address diverse security challenges globally. The NH90 serves both the Spanish Army and Navy, and the Airbus Tiger is the chosen attack helicopter for the Spanish Army.

The Spanish Army uses the AS532 Cougar for troop transport and search and rescue, while the Spanish Navy employs the AS565 Panther for anti-submarine warfare and maritime surveillance. The Spanish Army trains with the H135 (EC135), and the Airbus Helicopters H215 Super Puma supports the Spanish Air Force in search and rescue, troop transport, and utility missions. 
 
RotorReach N. America
The third-largest continent, North America is known for its diverse landscapes, including vast forests, deserts, and mountain ranges. It is home to countries such as the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
 
United States: The U.S. military utilises a range of helicopters across its branches, including the versatile UH-60 Black Hawk for troop transport, air assault, and medical evacuation in the Army.

The Army’s AH-64 Apache specialises in anti-tank warfare, close air support, and reconnaissance, while the CH-47 Chinook facilitates troop and cargo transport.

The Navy employs the MH-60 Seahawk for anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, search and rescue, and utility missions. The Marine Corps operates the AH-1Z Viper for close air support and the UH-1Y Venom for troop transport. The MV-22 Osprey, used by the Marine Corps and Air Force, combines helicopter and fixed-wing capabilities.

The Air Force’s HH-60 Pave Hawk performs combat search and rescue missions, and the Coast Guard employs the HH-65 Dolphin for search and rescue, maritime patrol, and law enforcement.
 
Canada: The Canadian Armed Forces operate various helicopters, including the CH-146 Griffon for tactical transport, reconnaissance, and SAR in the Army. The CH-148 Cyclone, used by the Royal Canadian Navy, excels in ASW, ASuW, SAR, and maritime surveillance. The CH-149 Cormorant, an RCAF SAR helicopter, handles long-range missions.

The CH-147F Chinook supports troop and cargo transport. Some CH-146 Griffons are equipped with laser designation for precision-guided munitions. The CH-135 Twin Huey and CH-136 Kiowa serve transport, reconnaissance, and utility roles in the Army. The Bell CH-139 JetRanger aids in pilot training and utility missions for the Canadian Armed Forces.
 
Mexico: The Mexican Armed Forces operate various helicopters, including the EC725 Cougar for troop transport, SAR, medical evacuation, and utility. The Mi-17 serves roles such as troop transport, cargo, medical evacuation, and SAR for both the Mexican Army and Air Force. The Bell 412 is used by the Mexican Navy for maritime patrol, SAR, and utility, with the ability for troop transport and medical evacuation.

The AS565 Panther, a naval helicopter, is employed by the Mexican Navy for ASW, ASuW, maritime patrol, and SAR. The MD 500, a light utility helicopter, serves the Mexican Army for reconnaissance, surveillance, and light transport. The Bell 206, a light utility helicopter, is used by the Mexican Air Force for training, reconnaissance, liaison, and pilot training. 
 
S. America’s Whirlybird Wonders
A region renowned for its Amazon rainforest, Andes Mountains, and diverse cultures, South America is home to countries like Brazil, Argentina, and Peru.
Brazil: Brazil uses EC725 Caracal (H225M) for troop transport, Search and Rescue (SAR), medical evacuation, and special operations. Airbus Helicopters AS565 Panther aids the Navy in ASW, ASuW, maritime patrol, and SAR. Other helicopters include Eurocopter AS550 Fennec for reconnaissance, Helibras HB350 Esquilo / AS350 Ecureuil for training and utility, HB355F2 TwinStar for various roles, AS332 Super Puma for troop transport and utility, and AS532 Cougar for transport and SAR.
 
Argentina: The Argentine military deploys a variety of helicopters for diverse roles: UH-1H Iroquois (Huey) for transport and reconnaissance; Bell 212 for transport and reconnaissance; H125 Esquilo (AS350 Ecureuil) for training and reconnaissance; AS555 Fennec for reconnaissance and liaison; AS332 Super Puma for troop transport and search and rescue (SAR); EC135 for pilot training; and B 212 for maritime patrol, SAR, and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) with specialised equipment.
 
Australian ‘Copter Landscape
Australia, a Southern Hemisphere continent, features a diverse landscape and unique wildlife. The region, including Oceania countries, employs a range of military helicopters for missions like transport, reconnaissance, search and rescue, and maritime patrol. 
 
Here are examples of military helicopters used in Australia and Oceania:
Australia: Australia uses the NHIndustries MRH90 Taipan for medium-lift transport, the CH-47F Chinook for heavy-lift missions, and the Tiger ARH for armed reconnaissance and fire support, equipped with a 30mm cannon and anti-tank missiles. The Chinook provides the Australian Defence Force with enhanced airlift capabilities for troop deployment, logistics support, and disaster relief operations.
 
New Zealand: New Zealand operates the NH90 helicopter for transport and utility missions. The NH90 provides the New Zealand Defence Force with medium-lift capabilities for troop transport, search and rescue, and maritime operations. New Zealand also operates the A109LUH (Light Utility Helicopter) for training and utility missions. 
 
Papua New Guinea: Papua New Guinea operates the Bell 412 helicopter for transport, medical evacuation, and search and rescue missions. The Bell 412 provides vital support for humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and remote area access. Papua New Guinea also uses the Mi-8/17 helicopter for transport and utility roles. 
 
Fiji: Fiji does not possess a significant fleet of military helicopters. It operates the Bell 206 helicopter for reconnaissance, patrol, and light transport missions. The Bell 206 is used by the Fiji military and police forces for aerial surveillance and law enforcement operations.
 
Soaring Supremacy
Military helicopters have soared as crucial assets in contemporary warfare, offering unparalleled mobility, firepower, reconnaissance, and support. Their resourcefulness grants them the ability to rapidly transport troops, deliver close air support, conduct vital reconnaissance, and excel in diverse roles like search and rescue and special operations.

From anti-submarine warfare to mine countermeasures and electronic warfare, these machines are now indispensable wings in military operations. As technology continues to evolve, the future of military helicopters promises even greater effectiveness, ensuring their continued reign as indispensable tools on the ever-changing battlefield.
 

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