I’m really lazy. That is, if I go to all the trouble of writing something on Facebook that’s even remotely related to the topics I cover here, I tend to feel like I’m cheating on you, dear reader. So I’ll copy pasta another conversation.
TMI asked regarding PGMs and CAS:
my question is, what is the role of the attack helicopter if the evolution you describe continues?
I’m willing to buy that the CAS role will narrow considerably, but it’s difficult for me to see PGMs completely eliminating the need for aerial gunnery at visual range
There’s a fundamental difference between the Army and the Marines in employment. The Marines tend to treat attack helicopters as just another part of CAS.
The Army, however, has a bit of schizophrenia. There’s long been two schools of thought, going back to the 60s.
Attack aviation is seen either as maneuver, or as fires. Early AH-1 units were in both attack helicopters with a Cavalry heritage, or in Ariel Rocket Artillery units. You can see the dichotomy there, I think.
The maneuver, or Cavalry school, sees the Atk Helo as fighting for information, screening, and delivering deep raids. The fires, or ARA school, sees the Atk Helo as just another source of fire support for the troops on the ground.
There’s a little overlap between the two school. In the permissive environment of the GWOT, we’ve seen them used both ways.
First, they did a LOT of convoy and maneuver unit cover and overwatch. But they’ve also been treated like call fires. Ground unit wants to make a room in a building go away? Call Mr. Apache.
Again, how that will work going forward depends on the threat we face.
Attack helicopters offer fantastic firepower, and great depth on the battlefield, but they are fragile, and lack staying power. In any but the most benign threat environment, their use must be VERY carefully integrated with other fires, and fixed wing air for the suppression of air defenses