Although helicopters were used in combat as early as the late 40s, particularly during the Korean War when they first played a key role in casualty evacuation and ejected pilot recovery missions, it It was not until 1967 that an armed helicopter specially designed for attack missions took part in an armed conflict. It was the American Bell AH-1 Cobra helicopter of the US Army as part of the Vietnam War. Since then, the attack helicopter has established itself as an indispensable tool in the inventory of modern armies, and the Mi-24 Hind, AH-64 Apache and other Tigers actively participated in many conflicts, ranging from intervention Soviet Union in Afghanistan to the first Gulf War, from the intervention in Libya in 2011 to tensions between Ukraine and Russia a few weeks ago.
Fast, maneuverable and powerfully armed, these devices know how to take advantage of terrain masking to approach their target and destroy them before receiving a response. Gradually, they replaced close air support aircraft in many armies. With the arrival of new ammunition, such as stray ammunition, and new sensors and communication tools, modern combat helicopters will see their performance expand even further in the years to come, to continue to represent a key component of air combat.
AH-64E Apache (Boeing - United States)
With all due honor, this panel had to start with the undisputed king of this category of aircraft, the Boeing AH-64 Apache, which today remains the most produced Western combat helicopter in the world, with 2400 units, yielding narrowly only to the Soviet Mi-24 which culminates in 2650 aircraft produced. However, initially, the Apache should never have seen the light of day. Indeed, it was not developed at the request of the US Army as part of its super program BIG 5 in 1972, after the abandonment of the AH-56 Cheyenne program, while the US Air Force took part of developing the A10 Thunderbolt II and the US Marines Corps the Harrier II, leaving the US Army isolated to develop its own rotary wing. The competition saw the Bell YAH-63 prototype face off against the Hughes YAH-64, the latter winning in almost all areas to the detriment of its competitor. The pre-production of the Apache started in 1981, and the first devices arrived in Europe from 1984, at the height of the Euromissile crisis.
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