Army Aviation

Army Helicopters: Piecemeal Modernization For Future War

By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. / ARLINGTON: US Army helicopters can penetrate Russian-style anti-aircraft defenses, service leaders say, but many aircrew are likely to die trying without new technologies, upgrades that the Army can only afford for part of the force. That mismatch between military demand and budgetary supply may force an end to 14 years organizing and modernizing all Combat Aviation Brigades to a single common standard. Instead, the aviation branch is now studying creating a variety of specialized units, only some of which might get tech like cockpit automation, improved turbine engines, and active protection against incoming missiles.

An AH-64 Apache gunship flies over Warsaw.

“Every time someone says, ‘hey, aviation is not going to play in the future battlefield because of IADS (integrated air defense systems),’ it is completely and utterly false,” the head of the Army’s aviation center at Fort Rucker, Maj. Gen. William Gayler, told the Association of the US Army last week. “It’s convenient, though, to say, ‘you’re not going to operate, so let’s look to take money from you’” – especially since aviation is the Army’s most expensive branch. But the Army can’t afford to cede the airspace to the enemy, he said, especially since the new Multi-Domain Battle concept emphasizes breaking down complex defenses by attacking simultaneously from every direction: land, air, sea, space, and cyberspace.

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