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From: (Nick Lappos)
Subject: Re: Helicopter Loops
Date: 25 Nov 1999
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.rotorcraft

In article <9%5%3.29156$>, "Richard" <> wrote:

Richard wrote:

....... I am curious as to your shooting down planes comment.  I recently
>read/saw or somethingor other how it was exactly the opposite regarding air
>to air with a rotor and fixed wing.
>in the article or show, dam the memory is going quick, it stated that a
>rotor craft has no chance versus any of the high performance aircraft in
>todays airforces.
>No I assume, distance and weapons would play a majopr role in this, but what
>are yur opinions?

I happen to have studied this issue quite a bit, as well as having flown some
air combat trials at Pax River back in the (gasp!) 80's.  All pre-LHX stuff
that taught us how much, and of what to build into the design of Comanche to
make it capable of doing nasty stuff to other helos and airplanes.  The below
is based on military tests, studies and the doctrine of the US Military.

Some basics of air combat:

Speed - FW guys believe that speed is the dominant factor, mostly because they
are all fighting the last war all over again.  Where weapons are poor, and
require a tight shot from the rear, then maneuver to gain the 6 o'clock is
important, and speed/energy dominate.  If you sacrifice turn rate and turn
radius to achieve high speed (F-102, anyone?) you will lose a today air
battle, and you will end up with a one way ticket on that trip.

This speed thing is becomming more wrong by the minute as weapons allow
all-aspect engagement.  The seekers on missiles now allow lock-on from almost
any position, and the missile maneuverability is much better than a manned
aircraft.  This is why the F-22 has vectored thrust, and the Russian jets do
their impressive post stall pointing maneuvers.  If you can point quickly, and
launch, you win.

Speed is very important for getting to the battle, and for radius of action,
of course, as long as speed doesn't cut down on the turn and point ability.

Helos and FW operate in different worlds, sort of the open ocean fish and the
bottom dwellers.  In the two worlds, different things dominate.

Detection - FW aircombat is like dueling on an open field, where detection
(the most important thing, by far) occurs before weapons come in range.
Remember that topgun Maverick sitting in the catapault waiting for the bad
guys to come in range, prior to launch?  The most significant air battle of
the last half of the 20th century was when two Saudi F-15's phoenixed those
Iranians without even seeing them.

Helos work in the dirt, and hide behind trees, hills and buildings.  Remember
that David Jansson film, "Birds of Prey" where he flew thru parking garages?
Looking down into a cluttered environment for a helo is a nightmare for an
airplane.  An airplane in that world is not only unable to find the helo, he
is exposed to every shooter down there, including the helo. and he is exposed
against a blue sky, with burners blazing and his behind in view half the time.
 Most mock air combat between helos and jets ends with frustrated jet crews
calling "knock it off' as the helo guys spin around in the Nap of the Earth
calling out their missile launches.   To attack SAMs, the USAF uses satellite
photos, careful tactics, and lots of luck.  They hope to break the chain of
Air Defense with an intense, high loss rate campaign, then establish
superiority and fly at will.  Imagine a properly equipped helo as a SAM site
that moves around at 100 knots.  Might ruin the game.

Remember that the first night in Bagdad, where the CNN reporter saw the action
from his hotel, was brought to you by the US Army, where Apaches killed the
radar sites to create the entry corridors.

Maneuverability - Helos have turn rates that are twice that of airplanes,
making them able to align weapons in half the time.  The US Marine Air Combat
manual for jet jocks tells them that they can expect the helo to be pointing
at them all the time, and that if he is armed properly, the problem is not how
to shoot him down, it is how to escape the helo.

Weapons - This generation of helo has the guns and missiles to do the job.
The BIGGGG Russian guns on the MI-28 and KA-50 are high energy 30mm monsters,
taken off the 2S-6 anti-aircraft guns,  They fire a projectile that has the
muzzle energy of the gun on the A-10!  The 20 mm on Comanche is no where near
as capable, but has high muzzle velocity, a fire rate of 1500 rounds a minute,
and a fire control system better than most AA guns.  Even the GAU-19 50 cal
gattling gun is a tough one, with fire rates of over 2000 rounds per minute.
(BTW, the 30mm M-230 on the Apache is great for ground targets, but too slow
in muzzle velocity and fire rate to be very effective in this game).

Regarding missiles, everyone in the helo world now carries Stinger or Mistral,
and most of the gunships carry AIM-9's.  Bad news for low trolling airplanes.

The article you mention may be half right.  If I were in Comanche, and
flogging around at 20,000 feet, I'd be dead meat.  But if I'm in the weeds,
the Briar Patch for Brer Helo, Let the Games Begin!

Nick Lappos

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