The Airpower Assessment Chronicles, Part IV.

WWIII – Team Yankee; Rotary Wing

Time to get back to another airpower assessment with a return to all things spining.

LYNX AH MK.1 HELARM (BRITISH)

The workhorse of the British Army the Lynx is the only option that the Army Air Corp provides to support NORTHAG and welcome support it is indeed! It is also available to their antipodean cousins in the Anzac Brigade. 

Pros:

The Lynx AH MK.1 provides British forces with some more long-ranged missile support to compliment their abundance of Milan missiles that they are already packing. The TOW is ok at AT21 with Firepower 3+ but the real drawback with this weapon is the Rate of Fire 1. Always. 

Cons:

At 3pts a model it is fairly cheap but I just can’t see a British player investing in 4 for 12pts – it’s just too big of a chunk in a 100pts force. With the TOW and its Rate of Fire 1, it really does make the Lynx a one-trick pony and I think that trick isn’t that great. The Lynx’ save of 5+ means that you will really be relying on that 4+ To Hit stat to keep you safe if you are in harm’s way.

Verdict: D (British) B- (Anzac Brigade)

Your army should be able to deal with Soviet medium armour without the inclusion of the Lynx which means you are relegated to hunting anti-air assets to start with – not a tremendous point for point exchange – for the first couple of turns and only then really being able to switch your attention to the T-72s, T-62s and T-55s swarming all over your forces… by then it is probably too late.

If you look at the options available to the Anzac’s the Lynx provides some much needed additional hitting power. With your Leopard 1s topping out at AT19 and your two Milan sections in your mech infantry concentrating all your Milan missiles outside of your Mechanised platoons I think that the Lynx adds an extra element of flexibility to your forces that the British are not lacking. 

Bo-105 PAH (German)

The lovely little Bo-105 PAH is available as a support asset to not only the West German forces but also the Canadians and the Dutch.

Pros:

More HOT missiles are always better than less HOT missiles – that AT23 punch means even the T-80 needs to think about taking one straight to the face. Flights of 2 of these seem to me to be the sweet spot – more flexible, and essentially sniping high-value assets rather than trying to blunt the hordes of angry communism in the low-end T-55 and T-62. 

PAH

Cons:

The cost is steep for these little birds and frankly, it is really the Gucci T-80 where you need that true high-end AT23 the rest of the time the single rate of fire of the HOT missile is just not enough to thin out those massed Soviet and Pact tanks and AFVs. Also, a 5+ save is pretty naff and means that you have to really make sure your positioning is on-point otherwise your investment is going to be hitting the pavement pretty quickly. 

Verdict: C- (West German), C+ (Dutch), C (Canadian)

The difference between these ratings is largely down to available points, and the availability of ADATs  – the Dutch are just cheaper and can more easily rustle up the point to include a flight of two or even four and the Canadians will have between 4-6 ADATS (because they are awesome!) to deal with high armour threats. 

Whilst the AT23 is fantastic and does mean you can take on the newer Soviet armour (or in blue vs. blue competitive play any modern NATO tank!) there are other ways to do this available to you. 

AH-64 Apache (USA)

With more than 2,400 produced since April 1986, the Boeing Apache is a mainstay of the US rotary-wing fleet. 

Pros

AT25. AT25… That is bonkers. That is threatening anything in the game in the front arc. Coupled with the raw punch of the Hellfire missile you also have access to a multi-shot chain gun that can be used to threaten lightly armour vehicles and AFVs especially if you need to move to reposition! A salvo is a nice option but really is a last resort weapon.  

The M113 Armoured Cavalry Troop and the M3 Bradley Armoured Cavalry Troop can take these monsters in formation which certainly helps because… 

Cons

You thought that the Bo-105 PAH was a bit costly… well the Apache dials that up to 11. In a “normal” game you are investing 25% of your point in a full-sized flight of Apaches. The issue with Rate of Fire one not laying enough smackdown feels like a broken record at this point but it is the points that really feel like you are possibly hobbling the rest of the list. 

Even if you are fielding a formation that can include them as an in formation platoon they still can’t take or hold objectives and that really makes them problematic in my humble opinion. 

Verdict: D (as support) C (in formation)

Just too expensive to be taken as a support option I think that the cavalry formations are where these beasts shine most strongly. The cavalry platoons are cheap enough to allow you to include a flight and they can be an issue for your opponent to get rid of. 

AH-1 Cobra (various)

Pros: 

The Cobra is much like an Apache Lite – and that is not to be disrespectful quite the opposite. The 20mm Vulcan is not as punchy as its 30mm cousin but is still a useful option if you need to move or deal with lighter armoured vehicles. The TOW is no Hellfire but AT21 is still punching through most armour you come across* and with a range of 8″- 48″ you can always be in range on all but the largest tables. 

The best bit is that a Cobra costs 2/3 of an Apache! So in those US lists if you need to trim down or maybe just enjoy having a pair loitering in case of emergencies then it is not going to break the bank, and again if you take the right lists they are part of your core formation. 

Cons: 

They are an Apache Lite. This is the other side of the sword, they are cheaper because they are simply not as good. Everything from their save and main AT weapon to their Gatling cannon is all the diet version of the Apaches. Now, list composition matters and if you have ways of contending with that super high front armour, or are playing a game where you know that won’t come up then it doesn’t matter as much. 

Verdict: C (US), A- (Iranian), B (Israeli)

Ok, so this is where it gets a bit confusing… 

For the US the Cobra is a viable alternative to the Apache in terms of cost but the AT21 is nothing exceptional to them and again Rate of Fire 1 is a hindrance to thinning out massed armour. 

For the Iranians you already have access to all the massed armour you will ever need in the form of M60, T62 and Chieftains but you have nothing over AT20 from the Chieftains. AT21 is a Rubicon Number and being able to cross it means that you can continue to threaten other armour whilst your other force get into a position to flank or overwhelm your opponent. You also have the points to really buy in to air support and it can be the difference in a game. 

For the Israelis, you are in a bit of a bind. Your mainline tank tops out at AT19 but the cost of all your troops means that points are at a premium. You also have access to the Pereh and if you are taking Mechanised Infantry (and you should be!) they have some M150 vehicles too so depending on your list you may find that you just don’t need the Cobra as much. 

Gazelle (Various, Gunslinger – France)

Pros: 

Gazelle HOT Patrouille. Similar in points to the Cobra you exchange the TOW, Gatling and rockets for a single HOT missile. With AT23 you are in that nice spot where the T-80 is flipping a coin as to whether it shrugs off any hits. The Skill 3+ does also make Blitzing to slightly reposition a bit more of a certainty. 

Gazelle 20mm Patrouille. Interesting little beastie this is – the 20mm cannon isn’t going to set the world on fire BUT the ability to shoot before AA can mean that you can really thin out that air defence before taking the incoming flak. For a point a piece I think these are amazing value and coupled with the HOT variant and other air support can make even the most comprehensive air umbrella fold. 

Cons: 


Gazelle HOT Patrouille. The HOT is great but lacks versatility and the weight of fire. In an army where Milan and other sources of AT missiles are fairly prevalent, the issue might be finding a role and points in support to make it a viable inclusion. The Save 5+ isn’t great but is par for the course really. 

Gazelle 20mm Patrouille. A Rate of Fire of 2 moving is a little bit of a downer and having to be more up close and personal means that you will have to ride that Save 5+ quite a bit. 

Verdict: 
Gazelle HOT: C (France), B+ Iraqi/Syrian
Gazelle 20mm : B (in isolation), A- (with added air)

More confusing laying here, so let’s start with the easy one – Iraqis/Syrians. The Iraqis and Syrians, much like the other Oil Wars book armies don’t have easy access to top tier AT so the Gazelle is a very welcome addition. Again, being cheap on points in other areas makes it easier to include them as a support option.

The French shouldn’t really need the Gazelle HOT, as alluded to earlier the pervasiveness of the Milan and VAB HOT options mean that it is difficult to include them. That being said if you are playing AMX-30 and mechanised infantry it might be more palatable to have at least a couple of these hovering close at hand. 

I really like the 20mm armed Gazelle. It is a dedicated AA and support option killer. Problems with Hails or Carnations? Not any more. Need to get rid of those Geckos and Gophers before your air support arrives en masse? You got it. For a small points investment – which is really key – you have a support option that can spend its time chewing up all those little support options that you don’t really want to dedicate anything significant to dealing with. Gunslinger is a fantastic rule which allows you to silence some of those AA missiles and cannons before your big airstrike hits. 

Mi-24 Hind (various)

Pros: 

The MI-24 Hind is a really interesting helicopter, especially framed against the others on this list. Why? Here’s why! The AT-6 or AT-9 Spiral/Spiral 2 missile has NO halted rate of fire – it wants you to always be moving. Compared to the NATO inclusions where the opposite is true this makes your Hinds a real issue to deal with as they can be exactly where you need them. AT23/24 is in the top tier but you have a Swiss Army Knife of weaponry at your disposal to deal with whatever you need. 

The transport capacity of 2 is nice but unless you are playing on 24ft of board in the barn you really don’t need to have anything embarked on board. 

Syria and Iraqi Hinds are a very nice compliment to take 4 Gazelles with HOT missiles. The Gazelles are happy staying stationary and lobbing HOT missiles downrange, while the Hinds can swoop around doing their thing. As mentioned before the points are there if you want them in these lists so it feels much more of a compromise to fit them in a list that does need that high AT to threaten the front armour of more modern tanks. 

Cons: 

The range on the Spiral missiles means you will have to place yourself in the firing line more often than not to target what you want to. Being Hit On 3+ is mitigated somewhat by your Save 4+ but it can lead you to take a boatload of hits from true dedicated AA like Rapiers. 

The Hind is also a beast of a model, physical space can become an issue as, with most Soviet or Warsaw Pact forces, more is always MORE. 12 x Hinds paired up with 6 x Frogfoot AKA The Leafblower, has always seemed to be popular with some for a very good reason – it’s a bit of a nightmare to deal with. 

The issue with this is that you can’t easily field this list – you need to take Afgantsy which limits your other options in a list. The other issue is that this puts around half your available points into maxing this out. If you don’t max out the options are the Hinds viable? I think that NATO dedicated anti-air will be able to whittle you down quickly enough that even with 6 Hinds – which aren’t cheap – that your effectiveness dwindles rapidly. 

The Poles East Germans and Czechoslovakians can only take flights of a maximum of 4 Hinds but compared to the Soviet 6 Hind flight and there is no access (yet) to the AT-9. I think that this will be down to player preference to include them as 4 is not 6 and if 6 will struggle it really depends on their function within the list. 

Verdict: B+ (Afgantsy/Syrian/Iraqi), C (Soviet/East German), C- (Poland/East German/Czechoslovakian)

Another complicated one to assess because of the wide variety of armies that can access the Hind. I think overall as I described earlier more is MORE with a lot of these forces so the more you can maximise their power on the tabletop the more useful they are. There is always a danger with Soviet-equipped armies of not being strong somewhere by having lots of options. The more Hinds the better and the more airpower the better.

Post Script

So that brings us to the end of the rotary-wing options for Team Yankee – it will be interesting to see what 2022 will throw into the mix for these options with some intriguing books on the horizon.  As caveated previously I’m by no means an expert so if you think I’ve made a glaring omission then please let me know in the comments.

I’ll be back next time with Chapter 5; WWIII – Team Yankee; Fixed Wing… sometime soon… 
– Dunc

Category: BritishCOINCzechEast GermansFrenchGermansIranIron MaidenIsraelList DiscussionNATOOil WarPolishRed ThunderSovietsStripesTeam YankeeUSAVolksarmeeWest Germans

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Article by: Duncan Gosling