Helicopters have always been excellent attack vehicles. They can get to places that planes often can’t and provide a level of accuracy that has repeatedly kept them at the forefront of many battles across the world. Gunships are a particularly dangerous breed of helicopter, often packed to the brim with modern, powerful weapons that allow them to quickly dominate a battlefield.
Not all attack helicopters are built the same, and there are a handful of them that are much deadlier than others, and even seeing them entering the foray can send enemy soldiers into disarray.
The AH-1Z Viper
This USA-based military helicopter is the new and improved version of the much-beloved AH-1W Super Cobra. It’s used by the Marine Corps, and there are currently 189 Vipers in circulation. The Viper was released in 2012, and boasts upgraded engines, rotors, transmissions, sighting systems, and improved flight characteristics. In terms of armaments, it has a 20mm three-barrelled cannon, along with 16 Hellfire anti-tank missiles. It can also carry pods of unguided missiles, as well as two Sidewinders.
The Eurocopter Tiger is the result of a joint effort between Germany and France. It’s classified as a medium weight attacked helicopter, and has been serving since 2002, and has been used by both the Australian and Spanish armies.
The Tiger has been used in several conflicts, with the most notable being in Mali, Libya, as well as Afghanistan. It’s generally deployed as either fire support or attack configurations. The attack configuration has the helicopter deployed with anti-tank missiles and rockets, as well as air-to-air Stinger missiles. The fire escort configuration sees the Tiger with a 30mm cannon, unguided and air-to-air missiles, and this version is commonly used by the French Army.
The Ka-52 is a Russian attack helicopter that evolved out of the famous Ka-50 Hokum. It entered service with the Russian Army in 2008 and has since become a staple of the country’s military forces. It’s one of the fastest attack helicopters in the world thanks to its contra-rotating coaxial main rotors.
It’s heavily armoured, capable of withstanding attack from 23mm projectiles, but it also comes with ejection seats in case of emergency, quite rare in attack helicopters. It is deployed with a dozen Vikhr anti-tank missiles, as well as a 30mm cannon. It can carry Igla-V air-to-air missiles and unguided rockets, and its design is so popular it’s found in everything from video games to TV series and Canadian mobile casino games.
Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian
Right now, the AH-64E Apache Guardian is one of the most powerful attack helicopters in the world. It’s an upgraded version of the AH-64A, which was developed to replace the AH-1 Cobra and has seen a lot of combat in recent years. Along with its Hellfire 2 anti-tank missiles, it also has a battle management system and a 30mm cannon. It entered production in 2011, and while it’s primarily used by the United States Army, it has also been bought by Taiwan, Dubai, India, Iraq, Indonesia, South Korea, and many others.