Military Helicopter Doctrines of the Major Powers, 1945-1992: Making Decisions about Air-Land Warfare

By Matthew Allen | Go to book overview

1
"Above the Best"--Developments in the United States

The helicopter is aerodynamically unsound. It is like lifting oneself by one's boot-straps. It is no good as an air vehicle. . . . No matter what the Army says, I know that it does not need any.

Unnamed Air Force General, 1950. 1

I believe that [Army] aviation is the dominant combat arm of the future.

General G. K. Otis, U.S. Army, 1983. 2

After the Second World War, army helicopter developments in the United States were initially driven by the air force's reluctance to provide adequate tactical air support to the ground forces. Emboldened by the success of a fledgling Army Aviation force in Korea, these developments centered on the theory of "airmobility." Within this concept, some senior army officers proposed that army helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft could carry out many combat and support missions in close cooperation with infantry units, which would thereby become highly mobile. With more favorable political and financial circumstances in the early 1960s, the validity of this theory was accepted and implemented to some extent with the formation of an air assault division including some four hundred army aircraft.

While these developments had taken place mainly with conventional and nuclear warfare in mind, the war in Vietnam meant the air assault division and most other Army Aviation units were used for counterinsurgency missions until the early 1970s. Little theoretical progress occurred during these wartime years except in relation to anti-tank

-1-

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Military Helicopter Doctrines of the Major Powers, 1945-1992: Making Decisions about Air-Land Warfare
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Military Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Abbreviations and Translations xiii
  • Introduction xix
  • Notes xxvii
  • 1 - Above the Best--Developments in the United States 1
  • Notes 58
  • 2 - Revolutions at Every Turn-- 71
  • Notes 113
  • 3 - Double Trouble--Developments in the United Kingdom 127
  • Notes 168
  • 4 - A Tale of Two Helicopter Forces--Developments in West Germany and France 179
  • Notes 205
  • 5 - A Rotary-Wing Revolution?-- Helicopters and Air-Land Warfare 213
  • Notes 234
  • 6 - Deciding on Innovation-- Helicopters and the Decision-making Process 235
  • Conclusion 261
  • Notes 266
  • Appendix - Summary of Helicopters' Technical Characteristics 271
  • Selected Bibliography 275
  • Index 283
  • About the Author 295
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