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Help me classify helicopters by generation
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As far as I'm aware, attack helicopters have never really been sorted into 'generations', especially to the totality of fighter aircraft. But I was watching a DVD the other night and it said that the AH-64A Apache is a second-generation attack helicopter.

This got me thinking. Can you please help me make a bit of a list of what helicopters are what generation? It'll be a bit of a guessing game for the most part, as the only mention of generations with attack helicopters have been the aforementioned 'second-generation' AH-64 Apache and the 'fifth-generation' Russian UVK.

I would have assumed that the early Cobra family, at least, were first-gen? The Apache is second-gen? The Comanche and perhaps Longbow are third-gen? The Sikorsky Raider is fourth-gen? Take the 'fifth-gen' UVK with a grain of salt, it is claimed to be that by Russians, after all!

Thanks for the assistance.


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I've always wondered this myself. But I think I can piece it together.

What you seem to be speaking of are armed helicopters, gunships and dedicated attack helicopters.

The "Vanderpool's Fools" OH-13 gunships were the first armed battlefield helicopters, but like other weapon trials helicopters at the time they were never put into service. Later came the UH-1C gunships, the first to be put into the battlefield. These I believe are Gen 1.

However, we then have the AH-1 series of Cobra attack helicopters, the first sole attack helicopters ever built. These might still be considered Gen 1, since they are based on the UH-1 powerplant and, at the time, used the same weapon systems. Plus the fact that the early demonstrator was based on the OH-13, but that might not be relevant.

Gen 2 would be the result of a need for a fast, heavily-armed and armored attack helicopter (later including night and all-weather capability) for the Army, as a supliment to the scout/attack role. The Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne of the Advanced Aerial Fire Support System program (AAFSS) would have taken the role, if it hadn't been cancelled due to it being far to expensive to produce. Sikorsky's S-67 "Blackhawk" suffered the same fate.

In 1973 the US Army began the Advanced Attack Helicopter Program (AAH), which required the aircraft to be all-weather and night capable. The AH-64A was the successful one, being fast, well armored, and heavily-armed, fulfilling the role of a dedicated attack helicopter perfectly.

Now for confusion...

It would seem that the AH-64D would be Gen 3 given the upgrade to weapon systems and special equipment, however it has also been considered fourth-gen! Why, I am still not clear. 

The RAH-66 would have been fourth-gen as well, except stealth and advanced weapon systems seem to be the focus on the future fifth-generation aircraft.

There is definately a gap between the second and fourth where the missing third would fill, and confusion between fourth and fifth I am still not clear with.



-- Edited by SuperStallion on Saturday 31st of December 2011 07:30:34 PM

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Just kidding... I always wanted to use this .gif.

 

Actually, I think 5th generation has to do with advanced unmanned systems, e.g. the UCAR. Whereas you have stealth, advanced weapons and all-weather equipment, and autotomy.

AH-64D should be third for advanced systems package, LHX / RAH-66 should be fourth for stealth and other advancements.

Just my opinion.



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SuperStallion wrote:

Gen 2 would be the result of a need for a fast, heavily-armed and armored attack helicopter (later including night and all-weather capability) for the Army, as a supliment to the scout/attack role. The Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne of the Advanced Aerial Fire Support System program (AAFSS) would have taken the role, if it hadn't been cancelled due to it being far to expensive to produce. Sikorsky's S-67 "Blackhawk" suffered the same fate.


 

Uh, NO! It was going smooth as butter until it crashed in 1974 at the Farnborough Airshow. Both test pilots died (Stu Craig died on impact, and Kurt Cannon died nine days later from injuries), and this marked the end of Sikorsky's beast.

I think AAFSS was dtopped at the time too, in favor of the AAH.



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Sorry for the mistake, I was under the impression it was a counterpart to the AH-56 at the same expense.



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Hmmm......

 

1st = armed (UH-1C, AH-1)

2nd = armed, armored, speed (AH-64A)

3rd = armed, armored, speed, upgraded systems (AH-64D)

4th = armed, armored, speed, upgraded systems, all-composite (light) stealth (RAH-66)

5th = armed, armored, speed, upgraded systems, all-composite (light) stealth, unmanned and autotomous (UCAR, UVK, etc.)

 

Could be wrong.hmm



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But the UVK isn't unmanned. In fact, it looks like a stealth counterpart to the Sikorsky X2 Raider coaxial-rotor helicopter.



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SuperStallion wrote:

Sorry for the mistake, I was under the impression it was a counterpart to the AH-56 at the same expense.


 

It was, in fact an entry to the same program. It seems as if the S-67 was more expensive than the AH-56, even though it was based entirely on the S-61. It was only an answer to the AH-56A failing the nessesary requirements. Not to mention there were other problems with program that caused delays.



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SuperStallion wrote:

But the UVK isn't unmanned. In fact, it looks like a stealth counterpart to the Sikorsky X2 Raider coaxial-rotor helicopter.


 

You're right. So then what would UCAR be? Sixth?



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SuperStallion wrote:

But the UVK isn't unmanned. In fact, it looks like a stealth counterpart to the Sikorsky X2 Raider coaxial-rotor helicopter.


 

D'oh!! Stupid me. I'm horribly confoozled.



-- Edited by hannetonIII on Saturday 31st of December 2011 09:14:03 PM

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If it helps any, the WZ-10 chopper from China is a third gen attack helicopter.



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From what I recall, the WZ-10 uses similar systems to the AH-64D, so possibly yes. Longbow must be third, while the Comanche is fourth. 

Therefore, Sikorsky's X2 (S-97) and Russia's UVK must be fifth.



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SuperStallion wrote:

I've always wondered this myself. But I think I can piece it together.

What you seem to be speaking of are armed helicopters, gunships and dedicated attack helicopters.

The "Vanderpool's Fools" OH-13 gunships were the first armed battlefield helicopters, but like other weapon trials helicopters at the time they were never put into service. Later came the UH-1C gunships, the first to be put into the battlefield. These I believe are Gen 1.

-- Edited by SuperStallion on Saturday 31st of December 2011 07:30:34 PM


 OK, I'm being picky, but to me the FIRST dedicated gunships were actually the UH-1A's flown by UTT in 1962.  They had in country manufactured kits consisting of a browning 30 cal that was hand charged by the gunner and 8 'Mighty Mouse" 2.75 inch rockets.  Of course the UH-1C was the first variant purpose built to fill the gunship role so if that was what you meant I apologize.

   Ray

Now you know I can't not post a pic or two!  These are from the uSAAM archives.

396.jpg

 

UH-1323_1280x862.jpg

 

Evolution%252520of%252520the%252520Armed%252520Helicopter%252520PT2_Page_74.jpg

 UH-1513_1280x854.jpg

 



-- Edited by rotorwash on Sunday 1st of January 2012 12:54:51 AM

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Wow, first of all thanks for the many replies. I also posted this exact topic at another forum I am a member of and only got 1 reply!

Just some random comments on your entries (all talk of generations is me currently following hannetonIII's method)...

The term 'generation' doesn't just include factors such as technology, but also timeframe. Therefore, I don't see how unmanned helicopters would be 6th-gen. Unmanned helicopters are not new, as such, but models such as the MQ-8 Fire Scout I feel would be perhaps 4th-gen (going by date and technology).

The Russian UVK is manned, and is of the same 'era' as the Sikorsky X2/Raider. I personally would say the Raider et al is the latest gen, so 5th-gen.

I believe that the AH-64D would in fact span generations, and not be solely limited to any one. For example, the Block II Longbow I feel would be 3rd-gen, but the Block III Longbow would be almost on par with the Comanche, so 4th-gen. This applies to the Cobra as well. The Cobra would be of the earlier generation(s), the SuperCobra would be the sort of middle generation(s), then the latest AH-1Z Viper would also be possibly 4th-gen.

All I know for sure is, the RAH-66 Comanche was WAY ahead of it's time if that is indeed considered 4th-gen! Only in recent years has 5th-gen even been hinted at.

If we can really nail this topic, I think we will in fact make helicopter history!

---

Follow the mirror topic on the other forum I mentioned, here...

Help me classify helicopters by generation - SimHQ Forums

http://simhq.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/3484813/



-- Edited by Flyboy on Sunday 1st of January 2012 12:05:14 PM

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SuperStallion wrote:

However, we then have the AH-1 series of Cobra attack helicopters, the first sole attack helicopters ever built. These might still be considered Gen 1, since they are based on the UH-1 powerplant and, at the time, used the same weapon systems. Plus the fact that the early demonstrator was based on the OH-13, but that might not be relevant.


 

Another thing I have to point out...

Are you talking about the "Iroquois Warrior"? If so then, nuuuuuu!!!

It retained the powerplant and basic transmission and rotor system of the UH-1C to reduce maintenance and development time and cost. No Bell 47 in there!!

And if anyone cares, the second demonstrator also entered the AAFSS competition but was dropped in favor of the already flying Lockheed and Sikorsky beasts. :P



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I was talking about the "Souix Scout". It's a flying demonstrator of the Bell concept built from a Model 47.



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SuperStallion wrote:

I was talking about the "Souix Scout". It's a flying demonstrator of the Bell concept built from a Model 47.


 I love the Sioux Scout, also called the Bell 207.  As a matter of fact I was just admiring her a few days ago in storage down at Ft. Rucker.  As you can see below she is still in great shape.  I once squeezed into the gunner seat up front and I can tell you it is mighty tight in there!

Ray

historical pics of Sioux Scout:

3762.jpg

 

3787.jpg

 

4096.jpg

 

In the collections today:

DSC_0117.JPG

 

DSC_0119.JPG

 

Just for completeness, here's the D 225 Iroquois Warrior mentioned by Leela.  However, the mockup was unveiled in 1962 and was based on the UH-1B drivetrain rotor system.  the first Charlie model wasn't built till 1964.  By the way, loosing the AAFSS competition was the best thing that ever happened to Bell.  Because of that loss, Bell uppper level management decided to persue a company funded gunship project of it's own to fullfill the "interim" gunship role in Vietnam.  As I'm sure most of you know, that project became the Bell model 209, better known as the Cobra.

Sioux%252520Scout%252520Bell%2525202070023.jpg

 

 

Sioux%252520Scout%252520Bell%2525202070025-1.jpg

 



-- Edited by rotorwash on Sunday 1st of January 2012 10:11:09 PM

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Ray and everyone else,

Wow. Had no idea the AH-1 had such a colorful history behind it! I've heard and seen pictures of the Souix scout, but never have I seen this beautiful aircraft that is the Bell D-255! I will happily add this to my collection.biggrin

Talk to you soon,

GET64



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Get64,

  Happy to help illuminate the history of this great machine.  If you really want to immerse yourself in Cobra history get THIS book by Mike Verier.  It has the best accounting of the Cobras origin I have ever seen.  Mike is about to come out with a new Cobra book which I'm sure will be just as good if not better.   For historical info on teh development of teh attack helicopter, Wayne Mutza's new book Helicopter Gunships is the best ref around.

   Ray



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Ray,

Thanks  a lot for the reccommendations. I'll look for those at my local bookstore.

Talk to you soon,

GET64



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The Mike Verier book is must have indeed. Despite its being only black and white it is packed to the brim with great photos and accurately detailed captions.

rotorwash, allow me to correct a small typo you made: the Iroquois Warrior was the D-255, not the D-225 (that was a June 1956 project for a SAR convertiplane with 2 Allison T56 turbines).

Also the last D-255 picture file is called Sioux Scout by mistake...

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Stephane,

  Thanks for the correction, I did indeed mean D-255.  The last image was scanned in a group of files with that label so I retained it with the scan so a reaearcher could locate it in the archives. I should probably rename the slide and refile it, but I was being lazy.

    Ray



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Flyboy wrote:

The term 'generation' doesn't just include factors such as technology, but also timeframe. Therefore, I don't see how unmanned helicopters would be 6th-gen. Unmanned helicopters are not new, as such, but models such as the MQ-8 Fire Scout I feel would be perhaps 4th-gen (going by date and technology).


 

There's 6th-Gen fighters, why not helicopters?



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Fighters have been around FAR longer than helicopters. I think the first actual fighter aircraft date back to 1915, during World War I.

Military helicopters were first used in World War 2, and the first gunships came out during the Vietnam war. 



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fluttercopter wrote:
There's 6th-Gen fighters, why not helicopters?

Yes but they're nothing more than concepts. And yes, fighter planes have been around longer than attack helicopters so you'd expect their 'generations' to be further ahead in numbers.



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SuperStallion wrote:

I was talking about the "Souix Scout". It's a flying demonstrator of the Bell concept built from a Model 47.


 

Oh THAT one!! *facepalm* no



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Yesterday I was looking through a book and it said that the AH-1 HueyCobra was the U.S. Army's first truly dedicated attack helicopter. For clarification between what is a 'gunship' and what is an 'attack helicopter' I've now looked up the term 'gunship' at Wikipedia, and in rotorcraft, it basically means 'heavily armed helicopter'. So I think that what are considered to be gunships (Hueys, onwards) and attack helicopters (Cobras, onwards) should be kept separate.

Therefore, a list of attack helicopters by generation might look something like this (using U.S. helicopters only for ease)...

1st gen: AH-1 HueyCobra
2nd gen: AH-1 Cobra (later models), AH-64A Apache
3rd gen: AH-1 Cobra (later later models), AH-64D Longbow (Block I)
4th gen: AH-1Z Viper, AH-64D Longbow (Block II+), RAH-66 Comanche (Block I)
5th gen: RAH-66 Comanche (Block II+)

I'm not an expert in the technological advancements in the different Cobra models/blocks, so I have just put 'later' for most of the Cobra entries.



-- Edited by Flyboy on Monday 19th of March 2012 02:42:56 PM

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