- The dedicated attack helicopter is a specialized over-battlefield component typically tied to army or air force services.
- Attack helicopters are an expensive and burdensome luxury from a financial and developmental perspective; therefore, only the leading nations can develop and deploy their own designs.
People often ask us which attack helicopter is the best in the world. What is the best gunship of the 21st century and why? Our analysis of the Top 9 is based on the total score for performance, firepower, defence, and avionics. We use specifications and available data to compare things. This list doesn’t have any gunships that are still being made or are just prototypes. It only has the best helicopters that are still in use and being made. All of the attack helicopters we’ve talked about here are very strong and dangerous. It’s also important to train the crew of the helicopter, because how well the machine works depends on how well the crew does.
At the moment, these are the top nine best attack helicopters in the world:
Denel AH-2 Rooivalk (South Africa)
Even though the Rooivalk looks different, it is based on the Aerospetiale Puma and uses the same engines and rotor. This helicopter is made to work without a lot of complicated help.
The Rooivalk has a 20 mm cannon in the nose turret. It has a system that automatically finds and follows a target. This attack helicopter can carry anti-tank missiles made in the country, called ZT-6 Mokopa (similar to US Hellfire). Surprisingly, this is one of the world’s most powerful guided anti-tank missiles. This gunship helicopter from South Africa can also carry up to 16 smaller TOW anti-tank guided missiles. It also has space for air-to-air missiles and pods with 70 mm rockets that are not guided. This gunship can be used for anti-armor, ground attack, armed reconnaissance, fire support, escorting, and deep penetration.
The Rooivalk can be equipped with two seats on the outside, which lets it pick up the crew of a crashed helicopter.
Due to a lack of money, only 11 of these helicopters are working right now.
Eurocopter Tiger (France/Germany)
France and Germany worked together to make the Eurocopter Tiger. It is an attack helicopter with a medium weight that went into service in 2002. It is also used by Spain and Australia. The Tiger has been in battle in Afghanistan, Libya, and Mali.
This helicopter has stealth technology and other advanced features that make it more likely to stay alive.
The Tiger can be set up for either attack or fire support (escort). The attack version has anti-tank missiles called Trigat or HOT-3, as well as unguided rockets. It also has air-to-air missiles called Stingers. This version does not have a gun on it.
The Tiger’s escort version has a 30 mm cannon, unguided missiles, and Mistral air-to-air missiles. The French Army uses this particular version.
Kamov Ka-52 (Russia)
The Ka-52 is a two-seater version of the well-known Ka-50 Hokum. It is a further development of the Ka-50. This attack helicopter started to be used by the Russian Army in 2008, and small-scale production of it started the same year.
Due to its two main rotors that turn in opposite directions, the Ka-52 is one of the fastest and most manoeuvrable attack helicopters. This gunship’s armour can take a hit from a 23 mm projectile. Ejection seats are where pilots sit.
This gunship has a 30 mm cannon and up to 12 anti-tank Vikhr missiles. It can also carry rockets that don’t need to be guided and air-to-air Igla-V missiles.
The Ka-52 has a system for managing the battlefield and can share information with other helicopters and third-party sources. This helicopter is also meant to be a command centre for a group of other helicopters. It helps find the targets and organises the attacks.
During the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, this helicopter was used a lot and did a good job. It turned out to be a very tough machine. There were many times when a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile hit the Ka-52, but it still managed to land safely.
Bell AH-1Z Viper (USA)
The gunship AH-1Z Viper grew out of the AH-1W Super Cobra. The US Marine Corps uses this helicopter. It is in the same style as the famous AH-1 Cobra, which was the first attack helicopter in the world. There will be 189 Vipers built. Most of them will have AH-1W frames that have been upgraded. Others will be made from scratch. The Viper was first shown in 2010, and in 2012, full-scale production started.
The AH-1Z Viper has new engines, a new rotor, an upgraded transmission, new avionics, and a new system for aiming at the target. Helicopters that have been updated can fly better. The exhausts on this helicopter are covered by an infrared suppression system.
The Viper has a three-barrel 20 mm cannon. It can hold up to 16 anti-tank guided missiles called Hellfire. It can also carry two Sidewinder “fire and forget” air-to-air missiles and pods with unguided rockets.
Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian (USA)
The AH-64E (AH-64D Block III) is an improved version of the original AH-64A. The AH-1 Cobra was replaced by the AH-64A for the US Army. During several recent wars, the Apache was used in battle.
The Apache Guardian has an updated Longbow fire control radar that is built into an antenna on a mast. Hellfire 2 anti-tank guided missiles can be fired from this attack helicopter in a mode called “fire and forget.” Targeting, the battle management system, the cockpit, communications, weapons, and navigation systems are also getting better. The gunship also has a 30 mm cannon on it.
The US Army began getting the Apache Guardian in 2011. The AH-64E standard will be added to a total of 634 AH-64D helicopters. This attack helicopter was given permission to go abroad. It works with Saudi Arabia and Taiwan, too. This helicopter was bought by India, Indonesia, Iraq, and South Korea.
Mil Mi-28 (Russia)
Since the late 1970s, the Mi-28 has been in the works. During tests, the Mi-28 didn’t do as well as the Ka-50. Still, it was given permission to be made. In 2006, the Russian Army was finally able to use this helicopter. At the moment, the Russian Army only uses a small number of these helicopters. Some sources say that it also works with Kenya.
This attack helicopter has two cockpits that are very well protected. It is likely one of the attack helicopters with the most armour. The Mi-28 also has a way for the crew to get out in case of an emergency.
Most of the time, the Mi-28 has eight Ataka anti-armor missiles and unguided rocket pods on board. This gunship also has a 30 mm cannon on it.
Compared to the old Mi-24 Hind, it is better at fighting against armour. It doesn’t have a second way to move troops. The Mi-28, on the other hand, has a small passenger area and can only carry three people in an emergency. This feature lets the crew of a crashed helicopter be saved.
During the invasion of Ukraine in 2022 by the Russian Army, this helicopter was used a lot.
The Z-10 is the first attack helicopter made in China. It was made with a lot of technical help from both Eurocopter and Agusta. Other sources say that the Russian Kamov helicopter design bureau helped with the making of this attack helicopter. This new helicopter from China is very advanced. It looks like the Chinese Army got the first gunships made in 2009 or 2010.
The Z-10’s main job is to fight against armour and stop battles. It can also fight other planes, but only in a limited way.
The sides of the fuselage are sloped to make it less visible to radar. Armor plates are thought to cover all important areas. The Z-10 can be armed with a 30 mm cannon, HJ-9 guided anti-tank missiles (similar to the TOW-2A), newly developed HJ-10 guided anti-tank missiles (similar to the AGM-114 Hellfire), and TY-90 air-to-air missiles. It can also carry rocket pods that are not guided.
Agusta A129 Mangusta (Italy)
The A129 Mangusta was the first attack helicopter made in Western Europe that was made for that purpose. In 1990, the first helicopters were given to the Italian Army. Production of the Mangusta stopped in 1992 because of problems with money and because the end of the Cold War meant that operational needs had changed. Later, the A129 International standard was added to all Italian Mangustas.
It is a light attack helicopter, so it doesn’t have as much armour as its competitors. Even so, 30 mm rounds can’t hurt its rotor blades. The Mangusta’s main job was to attack tanks. It had anti-tank missiles called Hellfire or TOW and anti-air missiles called Stinger or Mistral. It could also carry rockets that were not guided. Its main weapons were TOW missiles. But the A129 International is a more versatile machine that can do more than one thing. It had a 20 mm cannon on the front of the nose. It can be used to fight against armour, attack the ground, do armed reconnaissance, help with fire, or follow another plane.
There is a T-129, which is a version of the Mangusta made in Turkey. It was made by AgustaWestland, which is based in Italy, and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), which is based in Turkey. It is much better than its predecessor in some important ways. It was taken up by the Turkish military in 2013, and it is used for both attacks and spying.
Mil Mi-24 (Russia)
One of the most well-known attack helicopters is the Mi-24. During wars and other military conflicts, it was used in a lot of battles. This old gunship is still very good at what it does.
This helicopter has heavily armoured cockpits with steps and a gun turret under the nose. The first models had a 23 mm twin-barrel cannon, but later models were made with a 30 mm twin-barrel cannon. There are also anti-tank missiles and pods with rockets that can’t be directed.
The Mi-24 can also be used to transport troops. This gunship is a flying infantry fighting vehicle because it can carry an entire infantry squad of eight fully equipped soldiers. This attack helicopter is used a little differently than other attack helicopters because it can carry troops.
Many of these helicopters were made for the Soviet Army and for allies of the Soviet Union. Since the 1970s, more than 2,300 of these helicopters have been made. This attack helicopter was no longer made after 1991. Even though it is old, at least 50 countries around the world still use the Mi-24. It is thought that about 1,500 of these gunships are still in use. There are different programmes for upgrading and fixing up.