Top 10 Tactics for Simulated Helicopter Combat

The following are a few tactics that you can use in your combat simulator of choice, which will improve your survivability in helicopter combat.

    taji  15 AUG 07 Apaches
    (photo by The US Army)
  1. Keep your spacing – in multi-ship missions, allow space between aircraft, so as to allow all aircraft room to maneuver without risking collision or restriction of defensive weapon deployment.
  2. Share the Workload – when flying with human wingmen, the lead chopper should handle navigation, and the others should be watching for targets, or SAM launches.
  3. Don’t overfly dead targets – You may think you got them all, but if you’re wrong, they will be hiding in the smoke and will get you. It’s just not worth the risk. Take the extra time to fly a wide arc around them.
  4. AH-1S helicopter
    (photo by delta16v)

  5. Turn as you fly – whether climbing, descending or staying level, make continuous turns as this helps to avoid blind spots, where enemies could be seen, which will give you the upper hand.
  6. Lighten your load ASAP – as soon as your weapons are out, or your external tanks are empty, jettison them. This will make you more agile for making defensive maneuvers, and your engines will not have to work as hard.
  7. Get in and get out – be as quick as possible in completing your mission. Who knows when enemy fighters or attack helicopters may appear.
  8. Stay low and keep moving – sitting still makes you an easy target for tanks and other ground forces. Hovering in place also increases your chances of entering a Vortex Ring state. Keeping low can help you stay undetected because of terrain and other obstacles. Stay NOE (nap of the Earth) as much as possible and keep moving. When traveling through valleys, try to stay part-way up the valley wall, because there is shadow, and the enemy will be looking at the very bottom.
  9. Avoid overflying population centers – stay away from towns, villages and cities, because enemy civilians or soldiers could have a radio/cell phone and alert enemy forces. (I assume mission builders will be scripting this with triggers in the Blackshark mission editor)
  10. Attack from a distance – use your weapons from standoff range. Distance is your best defense. Don’t think that you have to fly right into the fray. Ignore those juicy targets, and stick to your mission goals only.
  11. Plan ahead – What do we do if attacked by fighters? Where are our friendly support units? Where are our ingress and egress points? And lastly, practice you BFMs (Basic Flight Maneuvers) until they become second nature.
  12. iraq
    (photo by The US Army)

3 thoughts on “Top 10 Tactics for Simulated Helicopter Combat

  1. What DO we do if attacked by fighters? Get zapped? I can’t even think of a possible tactic but prayer…

  2. In DCS:Blackshark, I would say, duck behind something solid and keep it between you and the fighter, like a building or a hill. Then try to slip away while he extends.

    Or fall back to friendly air defenses if they are close enough.

    In real life you could probably call for air support from your own fighters.

  3. A good tactic that works for me is to face and head towards the threat. What this does is limits the amount of time that you can be lined up (especially if guns are to be used by the fighter) and everytime this threat overflys you it gives you time to change course and possibly slip away. It also makes this bogey pull out early because if it don’t then it could run straight into the ground.
    If missiles are being used by this fighter then stay as close to the ground as possible and try to create as much clutter as you can for it’s radar whilst maneuvering.

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