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Fearing that hordes of Russian tanks would storm through the Fulda Gorge at the beginning of World War III, the US Army looked for an advanced helicopter.
The first attempt, the AH-56 Cheyenne, didn’t quite make it. According to GlobalSecurity.org, the Cheyenne was canceled due to a combination of upgrades to the AH-1 Cobra and “unsolved technical issues”.
An Apache attack helicopter assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, 1st AD Combat Aviation Brigade, also known as “Task Force Apocalypse,” fires a Hellfire missile September 11, 2014 in Fort Irwin, California. (U.S. Army photo by: Sgt.Aaron R. Braddy / Released)
The army still wanted an advanced gunboat. Enter the Apache that defeated Bell’s AH-63.
The Apache was built to kill tanks and other vehicles. An Army fact sheet states that this helicopter is capable of carrying up to 16 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, four 19-round pods for the 70mm Hydra missile, or a combination of Hellfires and Hydras Failure.
That doesn’t include his 30mm M230 cannon with 1200 rounds of ammunition. The latest Apaches are equipped with the longbow millimeter wave radar.
According to Victor Suvarov’s “Inside the Soviet Army,” a normal Soviet tank battalion had 31 tanks, so an Apache would have enough hellfire to take out over half a battalion. Even the most modern tanks like the T-90 cannot withstand hellfire.
Remember: Apaches are not lone hunters. Like wolves, they hunt in packs. A typical attack helicopter company has eight Apaches.
Apache helicopters have already successfully taken down advanced air defenses, but it would still be better to use F-22s if possible. (Photo: U.S. Army Capt.Brian Harris)
So what would happen to a typical Russian tank battalion armed with T-80 main battle tanks (with a three-man crew and a 125mm main gun) if it entered Poland or even the Baltic?
It’s going to be ugly for the Russian tankers.
This Russian tank battalion is tasked with supporting three motorized rifle battalions, either in BMP armored personnel carriers or BTR passenger vehicles, or it is part of a tank regiment with two other tank battalions and one BMP battalion. In this case, let’s assume that it is part of the motorized rifle regiment.
This regiment is to meet a battalion of a combat team of a heavy brigade consisting of two companies of Abrams tanks and two Bradley infantry combat vehicles and a scouting party of six Bradley cavalry combat vehicles.
A company of Apaches is dispatched to support the American battalion. Six, armed with eight hellfires and 38 70mm Hydra missiles, are dispatched to fight the three BMP battalions. The other two, each armed with 16 hellfires, have to deal with the tank battalion.
An Apache Longbow attack helicopter, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, 1st AD Combat Aviation Brigade, also known as “Task Force Apocalypse,” fires a Hellfire missile September 11, 2014 at Fort Irwin, Ca. (U.S. Army photo By: Sgt.Aaron R. Braddy / Released)
According to Globalsecurity.org, the AN / APG-78 Longbow Radars are able to prioritize targets. This enables the Apaches to unleash their hellfires from near their maximum range.
The Hellfires have been shown to be very accurate – Globalsecurity.org found that at least 80% of up to 4,000 Hellfires fired during Operation Desert Storm hit their targets.
Assuming 80% of the 32 hellfire hits fired, 25 of the tank battalion’s 31 T-80 main battle tanks are now scrap.
Similar results from the 48 battalions fired mean the three battalions of 30 BMPs each now down to two of 17 BMPs and one of 18, a total of 52 BMPs and six T-80 tanks facing the American battalion.
This attack would not go well for Russia, to say the least.