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Chapter III: Attack Considerations


Attack considerations are all of those factors which must be analyzed before a tactically sound target engagement can be made. Every situation is different and must be individually considered. The considerations outlined herein, while not all inclusive, provide a basic guide for determining the best tactical action.

A. Friendly troop dispositions: The first and most important consideration when planning an attack is the location of the friendly forces. It is equally important to identify the front lines, blanks and the position of any adjoining units. This information can be gained from a careful analysis of the tactical ground plan, briefings on the ground or in the air from other aircraft in the area and from visual and positive radio contact with the ground commander.

B. Enemy Troop Dispositions: It can be said again that the location of
friendly troop positions is the most important consideration when planning an attack. Enemy unit size and weapons capability can normally be obtained from the ground commander in contact. Before engaging the target. A reference smoke with range and heading or azimuth to the target should be obtained through radio communications with the ground commander.

C. Terrain: In considering the terrain, observe how the features of the area will affect your attack. Be careful to remember those cardinal rules that apply to the terrain. Locate and fix in your mind the tree lines, canals and other outstanding features with relation to your target. These must be fixed in your mind to insure proper tactical action at low altitude should an unforeseen situation arise. Having fixed all important terrain features in your mind you must use these as factors in determining your direction of attack and break direction. Avoid attacking parallel to tree lines or canals etc., but keep in mind that you want the long axis of your weapons beaten zone to correspond as nearly as possible to the long axis of the target. The long axis of the target will generally coincide with the tree line or canal line, etc. By attacking at an angle of 15 to 45 degrees to a linear terrain feature you achieve both desired situations.
It is also unwise to break into a linear terrain feature if this can be avoided. In some cases this cannot be avoided. In this situation, it is best to fly into the linear terrain feature at a 90 degree angle to minimize exposure time.
Whenever possible stay over heavy trees and avoid overflying clear areas. This will reduce the amount of time that the enemy has to shoot at your aircraft.

D. Sun: The position of the sun with relation to your target can be an important factor. Early morning and more often late evening are the most important times to remember this. It is best to attack with the sun to your back as this limits the visibility of the enemy. Likewise an early morning attack into the sun complicated by haze (common in this area) will pose a serious limitation to your effectiveness due to reduced visibility.

E. Wind: The direction and velocity of the wind is always valuable information to an aviator. It is particularly important when firing rockets. When fired in a cross wind the 2.75" rocket will weather vane or fly into the wind. This problem increases as the wind velocity increases. Cross-wind target engagement should be avoided and in its place an into the wind or down wind attack should be used. Attacking into the wind will allow maximum ground speed as the turn away from the target is accomplished. Attacking down wind will give you greater ground speed during the attack and longer range on your rockets, however your ground speed will decrease as the aircraft breaks away from the target. Since the aircraft is most vulnerable to ground fire during the break, an into the wind attack is usually the most desirable.

F. Maximum fire dispersion: When possible your direction of attack should be such that the long axis of your weapons beaten zone corresponds to the long axis of the target. A flank attack is most often the solution to this requirement.

G. Direction of break: Consider the enemy field of fire, location of friendly troops and effects of the terrain before making your decision as to break direction.

H. Altitude and Air Speed,: A firing pass to engage a target should begin at an altitude of 900 to 1500 feet and 80K, 500 to 700 FPM decent with ordnance expenditure starting when the aircraft is approximately 2500 to l500 meters from the target. The firing pass should be broken off when the aircraft is 500 to 750 meters from the target and at an altitude of 500 to 800 feet absolute. These altitudes and distances from the target will vary dependent on the terrain and the situation, but in no case will a target be overflown. Factors to keep in mind are that the rocket motor will burn out in approximately 2500 meters and after this will loose some of its accuracy. The 7.62 machine guns must be fired closer that 2500 meters (tracer burnout is normally 900 meters) to be really effective and when the lead ship breaks off his firing pass the wing ship must be close enough to start firing while the lead ship is turning. It should also be remembered that excessive airspeed or rate of decent will cause the rockets to weather vane into the relative wind and fall short.

I. Number of passes: Make only enough firing passes to accomplish your mission. Consider your target and your basic mission. Remember to conserve ordnance; it may become very valuable. In general no more than two rocket passes is tactically sound. Any more than two passes will not only result in prolonged exposure at low altitude, but accuracy is lost in not having as many rockets to adjust with on a given pass. Generally speaking there will be one best attack direction. With this in mind, it is usually best to make one pass from the best attack direction and expend a sufficient amount of ordnance on the one pass to neutralize or suppress the hostile forces. If subsequent passes are necessary, alternate directions should be employed. At times the tactical situation will justify additional machine gun strafing passes, however bear in mind that the rockets are the major caliber weapon of the system and when they are expended they should be rearmed as soon as possible.

J. Direction of attack: When multiple firing passes on one target are necessary, the direction of attack should be changed on each firing pass. This technique increases your effectiveness by confusing the enemy defenses and impairing his defensive capability. It is also sound in that the enemy does not know from which direction your second attack will come and the element of surprise is still with you.

K. Remember the Mission: It is imperative that the armed helicopter commander keep the mission in mind at all times. Since your helicopter is capable of such a wide variety of missions you will at times be called upon to deviate from your assigned task. Before committing your aircraft to any mission, remember you must be responsive to the ground commander.

L. Radio procedure: Each aircraft commander must "Roger" the mission before engaging a target. It is the mission leaders responsibility to insure that all of those people with a weapon in their hand understand the mission completely.



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