by Richard Sheffield
Weapons Systems—Theirs and Ours
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Attack helicopters are very much like their jet fighter cousins in one regard: They are mainly a weapons-delivery platform. They're useful only because they can take a particular weapon within range of the enemy and launch it. All of the great nap-of-the-earth flying skills are important, but they won't destroy the assigned targets.
As a weapons-delivery system, the AH-64A Apache is an excellent design. In many ways, it's more of a flying tank than a conventional helicopter. It's heavily armored and carries a lot of firepower. With four weapons stations—two under each wing—the Apache can carry 5000 pounds of armaments, which is more than can be utilized in most climates.
Of course, the enemy is going to shoot back. They have developed a sophisticated system of layered antiaircraft protection which must be overcome. To defeat this system, you must understand your own weapons and those of the enemy.