Often we receive many questions which is the best attack helicopter in the world. Which is the greatest modern gunship and why? Our Top 9 analysis is based on the combined score of performance, firepower, protection and avionics. We use specifications for comparison and available data. This list do not includes gunships, that are currently in development or at the prototype stage. It includes only best helicopters that are currently in service and in production. All of the attack helicopters mentioned here are incredibly powerful and devastating. Crew training of the helicopter is also important, as performance of the actual machine depends from the crew performance.
Currently top 9 best attack helicopters in the world are these:
Nr.1 Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian (USA)
The AH-64E (AH-64D Block III) is an upgraded version of the original AH-64A, which was developed for the US Army, to replace the AH-1 Cobra. The Apache helicopter saw combat during a number of recent wars.
The Apache Guardian is fitted with a mast mounted antenna with updated Longbow fire control radar. This attack helicopter can fire Hellfire 2 air-to-ground missiles in fire-and-forget mode. Other improvements include targeting, battle management system, cockpit, communications, weapons and navigation systems. The gunship is also fitted with a 30-mm cannon.
Deliveries of the Apache Guardian began to the US Army in 2011. A total of 634 AH-64D helicopters will be be upgraded to the AH-64E standard. This attack helicopter was approved for export. It is also in service with Saudi Arabia and Taiwan. India, Indonesia, Iraq and South Korea ordered this helicopter.
Nr.2 Bell AH-1Z Viper (USA)
The AH-1Z Viper gunship is based on the AH-1W SuperCobra. This helicopter is used by the US Marine Corps. It follows the line of the AH-1 Cobra, which was the world first dedicated attack helicopter. A total of 189 Vipers will be built. Most of them will be upgraded from AH-1W airframes. Others will be newly-built machines. The Viper was introduced in 2010 and full-rate production began in 2012.
The AH-1Z Viper has new engines, new rotor, uprated transmission upgraded avionics and new target sighting system. Upgraded helicopters have improved flight characteristics. This helicopter is fitted with infrared suppression system, which covers exhausts.
The Viper is armed with a 20-mm three-barrel cannon. It can carry up to 16 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles. It can also carry pods with unguided rockets and two Sidewinder fire-and-forget air-to-air missiles.
Nr.3 Kamov Ka-52 Hokum-B (Russia)
The Ka-52 is a further development and a two-seat version of the famous Ka-50 Hokum. This attack helicopter entered service with the Russian Army and its small scale production commenced in 2008.
The Ka-52 is one of the fastest and most maneuverable attack helicopters due to its two coaxial contra-rotating main rotors. Armor of this gunship withstands hits from 23-mm projectiles. Pilots are seated in ejection seats.
This gunship is armed with a 30-mm cannon and up to 12 Vikhr anti-tank missiles. It can also carry unguided rockets and Igla air-to-air missiles.
The Ka-52 is fitted with a battlefield management system and can exchange data with other helicopters, as well as third-party sources. This helicopter is also intended as an aerial command post for a group of helicopters. It provides target detection and coordinates the attacks.
Nr.4 Mil Mi-28 Havoc (Russia)
The Mi-28 has been in development since the late 1970s. This helicopter was finally accepted to service with the Russian Army in 2006. Currently Russian Army operates over 20 of these helicopters. Some sources report that it is also in service with Kenya.
This attack helicopter is fitted with two heavily-armoured cockpits. Probably it is one of the most armored attack helicopters to date. The Mi-28 is also fitted with emergency escape system for the crew.
The Mi-28 is typically fitted with eight Ataka anti-armor missiles along with unguided rocket pods. This gunship is also fitted with a 30-mm cannon.
Comparing with the previous Mi-24 Hind it is better optimized for anti-armor role. It lacks secondary troop transport capability. However the Mi-28 has a small passenger compartment and in case of emergency it can carry three passengers. This feature allows to rescue downed helicopter crew.
It was reported that during comparative trials the Mi-28 lost to the Ka-50.
Nr.5 Eurocopter Tiger (France/Germany)
The Eurocopter Tiger was jointly developed by France and Germany. It is a medium-weight attack helicopter, which entered service in 2002. It is also in service with Australia and Spain. The Tiger has seen combat in Afghanistan, Libya and Mali.
This helicopter incorporates stealth technology as well as other advanced features to increase its survivability.
The Tiger is available in attack and fire support (escort) configurations. The attack version is fitted with Trigat or HOT 3 anti-tank missiles, as well as unguided rockets. It also carries Stinger air-to-air missiles. This version is not fitted with a cannon.
The escort version of the Tiger is fitted with 30-mm cannon and unguided missiles, as well as Mistral air-to-air missiles. This version is in service with the French Army.
Nr.6 Z-10 (China)
The Z-10 is the first Chinese dedicated attack helicopter. It has been designed with extensive technical assistance from Eurocopter and Augusta. Other sources claim that development of this attack helicopter has been assisted by the Russian Kamov helicopter design bureau. This new Chinese helicopter is advanced. It seems that first production gunships were delivered to the Chinese Army in 2009-2010.
Primary mission of the Z-10 is anti-armor and battlefield interdiction. It also has some limited air-to-air combat capabilities.
The fuselage has sloped sides to reduce radar cross section. All vital areas are believed to be protected by armor plates. Weapons of the Z-10 may consist of 30-mm cannon, HJ-9 anti-tank guided missiles (comparable to the TOW-2A), newly developed HJ-10 anti-tank missiles (comparable to the AGM-114 Hellfire) and TY-90 air-to-air missiles. It can also carry unguided rocket pods.
Nr.7 Denel AH-2 Rooivalk (South Africa)
Despite its new appearance the Rooivalk was based on reverse-engineered Aerospetiale Puma and uses the same engines and rotor. This helicopter has been designed to operate without sophisticated support.
A nose turret of the Rooivalk is fitted with a 20-mm cannon. It contains an automatic target detection and tracking system. This attack helicopter can carry up to 16 TOW or indigenous ZT-6 Mokopa anti-tank missiles. It also has provision for air-to-air missiles and launchers with unguided rockets. This gunship can be used in anti-armor, ground attack, armed reconnaissance, fire support, escort and deep penetration roles.
A pair of external seats can be fitted to the Rooivalk, allowing it to pick up the crew of a downed helicopter.
Currently only 11 of these helicopters are operational due to funding problems.
Nr.8 Augusta A129 Mangusta (Italy)
The A129 Mangusta was the first dedicated attack helicopter to be produced in Western Europe. First helicopters were delivered to the Italian Army in 1990. Production of Mangusta was stopped in 1992 due to funding problems and changing operational requirements with the end of the Cold War. Later all Italian Mangustas were upgraded to the A129 International standard.
It is a lightweight attack helicopter, hence it carries less armor than its counterparts. Yet its rotor blades withstand hits from 30-mm rounds. Primary role of the Mangusta was anti-tank. It was fitted with Hellfire or TOW anti-tank missiles and Stinger or Mistral anti-aircraft missiles. It could also carry unguided rockets. TOW missiles were its primary armament. However the A129 International is a more flexible multi-role machine. It was fitted with an undernose 20-mm cannon. It can be used in anti-armor, ground attack, armed reconnaissance, fire support and escort roles.
Currently Turkey is developing an indigenous attack helicopter, which is a derivative of the Mangusta. It will have some key improvements over its predecessor.
Nr.9 Mil Mi-24 Hind (Russia)
The Mi-24 is one of the most widely known assault helicopters. It saw widespread combat action during wars and military conflicts. This ageing gunship is still very capable.
This helicopter has heavily-armored, stepped cockpits ant an undernose gun turret. First versions were fitted with a 23-mm twin-barrel cannon, however later production version with a 30-mm twin-barrel cannon emerged. Other weapons include anti-tank missiles and unoperated rockets.
The Mi-24 has a secondary troop transport capability. It can carry a full infantry squad of 8 fully equipped troops, which makes this gunship a flying IFV. Because of the troop carrying capability this helicopter is used in a slightly different manner than other attack helicopters.
This helicopter was produced in large number for the Soviet Army as well as Soviet allies. Over 2 300 helicopters were produced since the 1970s. Despite its age it is in service with at least 50 countries around the world. It is estimated that 1 500 Hinds remain in service. Production of this helicopter ceased in 1991, however various upgrade and refurbishment programs are still available.