Sunday, July 24, 2016

When the Mighty AH-64 went from being hunter to prey. A Blast From The Past.

Those that can't remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Check this out from Daily News, 2003.
A formidable fleet of U.S. Apache Longbow assault helicopters was transformed from hunters to prey yesterday by a savage barrage of anti-aircraft fire.
One of the choppers was downed by the withering groundfire and its crew captured by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard.
The formation of 32 assault helicopters was operating near Karbala, about 50 miles southwest of Baghdad, when it was caught in the maelstrom of groundfire that left the pilots who escaped "somewhat stunned" by the fierce resistance.
"It was all they could do to defend themselves," said CNN correspondent Karl Penhaul, an embedded reporter. "They were unable to achieve many of their objectives. . . . They had to return fire and get out of the situation."
"Most of the time they spent in that battle zone, they were defending themselves and trying to get out alive," he said.
One pilot said he encountered a "hornet's nest, a barrage of anti-aircraft fire," while another said he had one of his engines knocked out by a rocket-propelled grenade. The aircraft dropped 15 to 20 feet, but he was able to regain control and return to Kuwait on its remaining engine, the second pilot said.
The opposing force in this action was the Republican Guard Medina Division.  Note that they had no advanced anti-aircraft missiles, no networking and used RPGs and cannon fire to basically take apart the attack helicopter portion of a Combat Aviation Brigade.

I find the part about the Iraqis setting up an ambush mystifying....they were could they develop intel that the 3rd ID was about to launch an Apache raid?

Regardless, the lesson is clear (although I need to read the after action and official history of this battle)...rotary winged aviation is vulnerable...against advanced networked air defense systems they're sitting ducks.
NOTE:  What does this fight have to do with what we're doing today?  Its about looking at the way that our enemies actually fight...not how we script them or rather WANT them to fight us!  Look at a typical Russian Motorized Rifle Brigade.  Unlike what you'll see in the US Army or Marine Corps they
have a FORMIDABLE anti-air capability built in.  While our air arms are fighting for air superiority we won't be getting that vaunted air support and they'll be contributing to the air battle in ways that our air commanders won't appreciate.  If we're in the defense (this also irks me...the US way of war has us totally one is looking at the nightmare scenario of our ground forces having to fight in the defense anymore!) then we can expect our air assets to be challenged from the moment they cross the forward edge.  There are lessons here but no one is paying attention.

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