Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Egg Beater Assaults: Part One

My dad used to refer to helicopters as "egg beaters", and hated flying in them.

He didn't like the idea of hanging around in the sky waiting for Charlie to throw something at him every time he came into an LZ.

This is the time when a helicopter, and its payload, are the most vulnerable to small arms fire from the ground.

What prompted this post was our friend Alex Jones posting another piece on the continued effort of acclimating US civilians to military activity inside the borders of this country.

A helicopter must touch down in an area relatively free of obstacles. No overhanging trees, wires, cables or buildings that are too close or too tall. Tall buildings make maneuvering difficult. Combating helicopters in an urban environment such a New York City, San Francisco, or Los Angeles would, in effect, be shooting fish in a barrel. More on this later.

Well, maybe more like trying to stab a Barracuda in a barrel with a steak knife. Dangerous, but doable.

Usually a helicopter assault will begin with a recon mission performed by a four man team. They will attempt to approach the designated LZ and scout for booby traps, unmarked hazards and obstacles, enemy emplacements, and the size and location of potential hostile forces. The area is then softened up by artillery or air strikes, coordinated by the recon team, immediately before the assault. Attack helicopters then fly in looking for enemy targets, hoping to engage and draw the fire of concealed defenders. This is done to minimize the exposure of the transport helicopters carrying the assault force. These are usually hanging around somewhere waiting for the LZ to be cleared.

How these tactics would fit into an a martial law situation, I'm not sure.

If military personnel are already facing an insurrection where armed exchanges have already occurred, the answer is obvious. However, if this is an attempt to seize a civilian area and place it under martial law, I doubt the recon team would be used. Unless, they are dispatched to the area ahead of time in order to disrupt any attempt to organize an effective resistance.

Artillery fire or air strikes are also unlikely.

I think attack helicopters will be used. More than likely, they will be used to try and keep people off of rooftops, and away from the LZ.

Potential attack helicopters include:

Apaches (AH64) make an imposing statement, but because of the terrain of many urban areas, they probably won't be deployed in most instances. The AH64 was developed primarily for the open plains of Europe to counter Soviet armor and mechanized infantry. This is why it has proven so effective in the open sands of Iraq.

Blackhawk on steroids (MH60L-DAP) This is one scary MoFo. Used extensively for night operations, its effectiveness has been proven repeatedly in Iraq.

Cobra Gunship (AH-1) and varients "Snake Drivers" caused the bowels of the enemy in Viet Nam to turn to water everytime one of these things slithered across the sky. Apparently, they are still in use by the Marine Corps.

Little Bird (AH-6J) I tend to think that this will be the most frequently seen attack helicopter if martial law comes to our shores. This thing is quick and maneuverable, ideal for more urban environs.

Support Helicopters:

Kiowa Warrior (OH-58D) If you see one of these, chances are that an Apache is skulking about waiting to drop the hammer. Frequently used as scouting aircraft for Apaches, this thing is no creme puff in a fight.

Troop Transports:

Sea Knight (CH-46, UH-46, ) This is the 'copter pictured in Alex's article.

Chinook (CH-47D/F, MH-47E) Heavy lift helicopter used by the US Army.

Super Stallion (CH-53E) Capable of carrying up to 55 men, and armed as well.

Huey (UH-1N) Also capable of providing close support. May be used in attack and support roles. I had the opportunity to ride in one of these things when I was in ROTC. Scared the crap out of me, and I used to race cars!

Blackhawk (UH-60) Made famous or infamous by the movie "Blackhawk Down". <--- Click the link to read the real story, not the Hollywood version.

These are the machines in use by US Forces. If foreign troops are used to quell unrest, we may see other types of aircraft in the skies. If any of the readers know of other helicopters in use by US Forces, please let us all know in the comment section.


Bullseye said...

I think you pretty well got the brids covered, good job too. I see the Blackhawk as being the bad boy in town in urban areas. These are and will be used for attack and clear missions. They can make a big hole for a Huey to land with a cargo full of bad guys. But readers need to also keep in mind that any of these birds can be taken down with a well placed and lucky shot but a firearm as small as a 22cal. Not going to get into that here but you can find out where and how to place this shot with a little research. Great post my friend, looking forward to more.

Code Name "Bullseye"

ErinAndBrad said...

Cool - thanks Cat!