Modern armies are already trying to learn from the experience gathered by Ukrainian soldiers on a real battlefield. Apache pilots are among those who receive the most valuable lessons.
The British military is a good example: their Apache AH-64E attack helicopter pilots are conducting training drills to learn to adapt their tactics based on the challenges observed during multiple battles on the Ukrainian ground.
In particular, helicopter operators are learning to fight against modern threats, including advanced air defense systems, portable MANPADS launchers, remotely-controlled drones, and also different electronic warfare measures.
Recently, during Talon Guardian military exercise, the British 3rd Regiment Army Air Corps had to learn completely new tactics, under conditions they had never experienced before.
“We’ve had to completely change how we operate both in the air and on the ground, to best exploit the AH-64E’s improved sensors, weapons and communications systems, as well as its better flying performance,” said one of the pilots operating Apache AH-64E.
What tactical elements had to be added to the training procedures? The most important thing is that pilots cannot wly “hard and fast”, as they used to be doing a decade ago. For example, during Apache Mk 1 missions in Afghanistan, sometimes it was enough just to “demonstrate” the helicopter to the enemy in order to achieve significant gains in terms of military advance.
Now, the flight must be done with caution – particularly, aiming to avoid detection and subsequent hits by air defense systems. Aircraft must be flown at low altitudes, using the natural landscape as a cover, until they get close enough to the enemy.
Also, in order to achieve full combat potential, helicopters cannot act stand alone. They need to have adequate support in the field, which includes having substantial cover from the ground-based units, and counter-drone systems.
Maintenance and resupply stations must be located far from the front lines. Preferably, maintenance units must be mobile enough to relocate as quickly as possible, to avoid long-range strikes by the enemy artillery. These stations cannot be over-concentrated: equipment needs to be dispersed over a large territory to increase chances for survivability.
We can’t expect to have the luxury of a well-established and secure base. Dispersal is about survivability, by presenting the enemy with lots of smaller targets rather than having all the aircraft parked together. Working like this is more challenging and needs good communication and planning to think about the kind of jobs we’ll be doing and the tools and spare parts that we’ll need,” commented Aircraft technician Lance Corporal Chris Voller.