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

By Matthew Allen | Go to book overview

Although some advocates might see helicopters as causing a "rotary- wing revolution," 13 the term "revolution" is too value laden to be used profitably in assessing the basic and fundamental changes that have come about. As was the intention of the more extreme supporters of this revolution, the term implies that the helicopter is replacing the tank as the most crucial land weapon system, whereas current helicopter doctrines are, in fact, dependent on the continuing presence of armored forces (Table 5.2).

The helicopter is a part of the mechanized revolution that began in the early twentieth century and not the beginning of a new era in warfare. If there has been a fundamental change because of military helicopters, it occurred at the intersection of air and land combat. Until the emergence of the helicopter, its technical improvement and the maturation of associated doctrines, armies had only a tenuous grasp of the use of air power within the land battle. The helicopter provided an aerial combat system that ideally complemented armored forces. Indeed, intellectual mastery of the military helicopter was most evident when soldiers stopped seeing its relationship with established arms as a competition and began to develop means of integrating the new with the old.


NOTES
1.
Scibiorek, "Helicopters,"2; and Reznichenko, Tactics ( 1987).
2.
The use in the 1980s of terms such as Airland Battle seems to be driven almost entirely by armies. While developed in consultation with air forces, they do not appear to reflect air force thinking.
3.
A good summary of the development of close air support can be found in B. Greenhous, "Aircraft versus Armor: Cambrai to Yom Kippur," Tim Travers and Chris Archer (ed.), Men at War: Politics, Technology and Innovation in the Twentieth Century ( Chicago: Precedent, 1982), 93-118.
4.
Gavin, Air Assault, 21-32.
5.
See, for example, the analysis in Richard E. Simpkin, Anti-tank--An Air- mechanized Response to Armoured Threats in the 90s ( Oxford: Brassey's, 1982), 188.
6.
See also Farooq Hussain, Ian Kemp and Philip McCarty, The Future of the Military Helicopter, ( London: RUSI, 1986), 64-66.
7.
Richard E. Simpkin, Race to the Swift ( London: Brassey's 1985), 120-21.
8.
Richard E. Simpkin, Tank Warfare ( London: Brassey's, 1979) 173.
9.
Only the Soviets developed adequate armored vehicles for their airborne troops, and even they saw the benefits of using helicopters for many air-landing missions.
10.
von Senger and Etterlin, "New Operational Dimensions,"12.
11.
Macksey, The Tanks 1945-1975, 175.
12.
Richard E. Simpkin, "Flying Tanks? A Tactical-technical Analysis of the 'Main Battle Air Vehicle' Concept," Military Technology 8. 8 ( 1984): 80.
13.
Simpkin, Race to the Swift, 117.

-234-

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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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