Article - flying high may be the best protection against shootdowns - Page 2 - ED Forums


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Old 06-08-2015, 01:09 AM   #11
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Compared to the Comanche etc, how likely is it looking that the S-97 will be a produced aircraft? it certainly seems impressive, and its maiden flight went perfectly it seems.
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Old 06-08-2015, 01:32 AM   #12
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It has substantial potential as a civilian aircraft, so I think it will come to be in some form or another even if the military rejects it.
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Old 06-12-2015, 06:33 AM   #13
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This article is dangerously advocating for a general answer to a specific threat environment (i.e. Iraq 2007) and should probably be seen as that. Fundamentally, this is a security verses effectiveness argument that does the necessary rounds in every S2 brief, S3 orders group, and O's mess happy hour.

While I respect the authors experience, one can find any number of positive and negative reasons why flying high can be both sound and unsound tactically. Necessarily rotary wing interacts with the ground more than higher altitude fix wing; in mission, performance and the not unimportant aspect of generating and maintaining situational awareness - you really minimise the efficacy of what rotary can achieve at 10,000 feet.

If we look at a modern day Afghanistan MANPAD example (noting we haven't seen a guided threat launch since 2007 - I'm happy to be corrected on this), pressure altitude is not a safety margin when terrain elevation can be tactically exploited so effortlessly. Certainly the Mujahedeen exploited this in the 1980s, and even scored a range of kills using downward firing rocket (RPG-7 specifically) attacks that succeeded from superior tactics (refer page 178 of the excellent 'The Bear Trap').

So, allowing for the vastly reduced threat from MANPAD systems, what did NATO/ISAF rotor aircrew do? They flew for mission efficacy - response, performance, situational awareness, airspace deconfliction (arguably the biggest threat to aircrew safety with complete air parity) and even physiological comfort (I can tell you first hand that an Afghan winter at 5,000 feet is incredibly uncomfortable).

I would offer the alternative title for this article. "Altitude equals security, sometimes. Security does not equal effectiveness, sometimes".

Last edited by Wizz; 06-12-2015 at 06:41 AM.
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Old 06-12-2015, 07:48 AM   #14
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Saw this the other day, posted on reddit hoggit:

Brutal example of the very short reaction time the author writes about.

MANPADS travel at a speed of about 1,500 miles per hour. When launched from close range (one-half mile) with the helicopter at low altitude, the pilot’s reaction time is about one and a half seconds. At the same horizontal range with the helicopter at 10,000 feet above the ground, the pilot’s reaction time is nearly five and a half seconds. This increased reaction time is crucial if the helicopter crew is to successfully defeat the engagement. At low altitude, even assuming the helicopter crew sees, identifies, processes and reacts to a MANPADS launch within the first second, any defensive maneuvers and/or countermeasures have only half a second to work, leaving no time to attempt a second countermeasure sequence. From high altitude, several countermeasure sequences can be employed to defeat the missile in-flight.
Anyway, looking at the list of downed aircraft in Iraq for example, helicopters by their nature just seem to be a lot more risky, even more so when the enemy is equipped with advanced manpads, like in the Ukraine.

Some more links:,00.html
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