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The 14 Best Attack Helicopters in the World

4 views | By Hangar.Flights Contributor | Last updated on November 02, 2022

Attack helicopters debuted during the Second World War, but it wasn’t until the Korean war that they morphed into formidable military weapons capable of causing devastating carnage. Attack helicopters have evolved over the decades, changing battlefield dynamics and how armies conduct warfare.

During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union were involved in a billion-dollar arms race to develop exceptional weapons, which included the design, production, and deployment of the best attack helicopters on battlefields across the globe. However, attack helicopters manufactured by China, the Uk, and other European Union countries provide similar offensive capabilities, including the ability to engage ground targets, provide close air support and escort for airborne transports, and destroy enemy armor and fortified positions.

What are the best attack helicopters? This is an explosive question inundating online chat rooms since the birth of the internet. Our compilation of the best attack helicopters in the world is the most comprehensive list of helicopter gunships from every era. It includes details on their firepower, dynamic handling, airspeed, advanced electronics, and gadgetry.

The Best US Attack Helicopters

7. Lockheed Cheyenne AH-56

Lockheed Cheyenne AH-56 - The 14 Best Attack Helicopters in the World

  • Manufacturer – Lockheed Corporation
  • First Flight – 1967
  • Crew – 2
  • Length – 54 ft 8 in (16.66 m)
  • Rotor diameter – 51 ft 3 in (15.62 m)
  • Engine – 1 × General Electric T64-GE-16 turboshaft engine, 3,925 hp (2,927 kW)
  • Range – 1,063 nmi (1,223 mi, 1,969 km)
  • Service Ceiling – 20,000 ft (6,100 m)
  • No Built – 10
  • Status – Canceled

The short-lived Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne attack helicopter was a revolutionary rotorcraft that pushed the engineering limits of its time. It was a compound helicopter with a General Electric T64 turboshaft engine directing 90 percent power to the tail-mounted pusher propeller. The AH-56 Cheyenne was designated as a high-speed gunship escort for transport helicopters. Several technical problems delayed the Cheyenne program, including a fatal crash in May 1969. Citing “unsatisfactory progress,” the Army canceled the AH-56 program in favor of the Advanced Attack Helicopter (AAH) project, resulting in the development of the AH-64 Apache.

6. Kaman H-2 Tomahawk

Kaman H-2 Tomahawk - The 14 Best Attack Helicopters in the World

  • Manufacturer – Kaman Aircraft Corporation
  • First Flight – 1963
  • Crew – 3
  • Length – 11.15m (36.58 ft)
  • Rotor diameter – 13.41m (43.55 ft)
  • Engine – 1 x General Electric T58-GE-8 turboshaft, rated at 1,264.45 hp (930kW)
  • Speed – 260km/h (161.5 mph max speed), 245km/h (152.2 mph cruising speed)
  • Range – 1070 km (664.86 mi, 577.7 nmi)
  • Service Ceiling – 5300m (17,388.45 ft)
  • No Built – 1 Prototype
  • Status – Canceled

The Kaman H-2 Tomahawk was poised to become one of the best attack helicopters in the world – until the U.S Army pulled the plug on its production. However, we can’t overlook the potential of this exceptional helicopter and wonder, “what if” had the Kaman H-2 Tomahawk been given a chance. Developed from the Navy’s UH-2A Seasprite antisubmarine helicopter as a low-cost interim gunship for the United States Army in 1963. The Army adopted the first H-2 Tomahawk prototype for its new close ground attack and support role by fitting standard U.S Army navigation and communication systems, a single door-mounted M-60 machine gun, stub wings carrying four 7-round 2.75-inch unguided rocket pods, and twin 7.62mm machine guns inside each of the two independently operated or ‘slaved’ chin-mounted turrets. Extra modifications include cockpit armor plating, self-sealing fuel tanks, and a more powerful engine and transmission. The Army Aviation Test Board selected the H-2 prototype, and the Army received Congressional authority to purchase 220 H-2 Tomahawk attack helicopters. However, the order was canceled five days after Lyndon Johnson became president in November 1963 in favor of the Bell UH-1 “Iroquois” helicopter manufactured in the president’s home state of Texas.

5. Bell UH-1B/C Iroquois

Bell UH-1B/C Iroquois - The 14 Best Attack Helicopters in the World

  • Manufacturer – Bell Helicopter 
  • Introduction – 1966
  • Crew – 2
  • Length – 42 ft (12.80 m)
  • Rotor diameter – 48 ft 0 in (14.63 m)
  • Engine – 1 × Lycoming T53-L-9 or Lycoming T53-L-11 engine, 1,100 shp (820 kW)
  • Speed – 135 mph (217.6 km/h max speed), 125 mph (201 km/h cruise speed)
  • Range – 344 nmi (395.8 mi, 637 km)
  • No Built – 766
  • Status -Retired

A Vietnam War icon, the Bell UH-1 Charlie helicopter is a variant of the popular UH-1 ‘Huey’ transport helicopter. Although lacking a dedicated attack helicopter platform, the UH-1C gunship’s exceptional performance in Vietnam forever enshrined its memory among Army’s helicopter pilots and crew. Undoubtedly, the Bell UH-C is one of the best attack helicopters ever developed. Designed as a cost-effective solution until the completion of Bell AH-G Huey Cobra attack helicopter. Bell engineers modified the existing UH-1B transport slick into the UH-1C by fitting a new engine and new tail boom assembly. A larger 242-gallon fuel tank was installed alongside hydraulic control systems and a modified engine air inlet system suited to dusty SouthEast Asia’s environment.

4. Bell AH-1 Cobra

Bell AH-1 Cobra - The 14 Best Attack Helicopters in the World

  • Manufacturer – Bell Helicopter
  • Introduction – 1967
  • Crew – 2
  • Length – 53 ft (16 m) including rotors
  • Rotor diameter – 48 ft 0 in (14.63 m)
  • Engine – 1 × Lycoming T53-L-13 turboshaft, 1,100 hp (820 kW)
  • Range – 310 nmi (360 mi, 570 km)
  • Service Ceiling – 11,400 ft (3,500 m)
  • No Built – 1,116
  • Status – In service

The single-engine Bell AH-1 Cobra is among the best attack helicopters in the United States Army. It shared a similar engine and transmission with the Bell UH-1 transport helicopter and was deployed extensively in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. Having such a renowned pedigree offered exceptional operational success. During the Vietnam War, the AH-1 Cobra flew multirole combat missions, including close ground support for troops and escorted transport helicopters. Standard weaponry of the AH-1 Cobra includes twin 7.62mm multi-barrel miniguns or twin M129 40mm grenade launchers, 2.75 inches (70mm) rockets, and M18 7.62 minigun pod or XM35 armament subsystem with XM195 20mm cannon. The Cobra was so successful that everyone wanted one, including the United States Marine Corps and the armies of Israel, Japan, and Turkey.

3. Bell AH-1 SuperCobra

Bell AH-1 SuperCobra - The 14 Best Attack Helicopters in the World

U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Mark Hays/Released

  • Manufacturer – Bell Helicopter
  • Introduction – 1971
  • Crew – 2
  • Length – 45 ft 9 in (14 m) for fuselage only
  • Rotor diameter – 43 ft 11 in (13.39 m)
  • Engine – 1 × P&W Canada T400-CP-400 (PT6T-3 Twin-Pac) turboshaft engine, 1,530 shp (1,140 kW) (de-rated from 1,800 shp (1,342 kW) for drivetrain limitations)
  • Range – 311 nmi (358 mi, 576 km)
  • Service Ceiling – 10,500 ft (3,200 m)
  • No Built – Over 1,271
  • Status – Retired

Developed from the AH-1 Cobra for the United States Marine Corps which wanted a twin-engine attack helicopter for greater operational safety during sea missions. The Super Cobra was redesigned for endurance, reliability, and easier field maintenance. Its weapons include a 20mm (0.787 inches) M193 3-barreled Gatling cannon with 750 rounds capacity, 2.75 in (70 mm) MK40, or Hydra 70 rockets in 7 or 19 rounds pods, 16 5 inches (127 mm) Zuni rockets in 4-round LAU-10D/A launchers, and AIM-9 Sidewinder anti-aircraft missiles mounted on each side point. The Super Cobra is a veteran of several wars and military campaigns, starting with the Vietnam War, the invasion of Grenada, the Iran-Iraq War, and the Persian Gulf War. and the United States Haiti invasion. It also saw combat service in major military engagements in Europe and the Middle East.

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2. Bell AH-1Z Viper

Bell AH-1Z Viper - The 14 Best Attack Helicopters in the World

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Clare J. McIntire/Released

  • Manufacturer – Bell Helicopter
  • Introduction – 2010
  • Crew – 2
  • Length – 58 ft 3 in (17.75 m)
  • Rotor diameter – 48 ft (15 m)
  • Engine – 2 × General Electric T700-GE-401C turboshaft, 1,800 shp (1,300 kW) each
  • Range – 370 nmi (430 mi, 690 km)
  • Combat Range – 125 nmi (144 mi, 232 km) with 2,500 lb (1,100 kg) payload
  • Service Ceiling – 20,000 ft (6,100 m)
  • No Built – 229
  • Status – In service, in production

The AH-1 Viper helicopter gunship replaces the AH-1 Super Cobra but shares similar design features with the AH-1 Cobra. However, it receives new General Electric twin engines, transmission, an upgraded targeting system and avionics, infrared radar suppression for its exhausts, and composite four-blade rotors. Its suite of weaponry consists of a 20 mm M197 three-barrel rotary cannon, 16 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, two Sidewinder missiles, and several pods for unguided 2,75 inch rockets.

1. Boeing AH-64 Apache

Boeing AH-64 Apache - The 14 Best Attack Helicopters in the World

  • Manufacturer – Boeing Defense Space & Security, AgustaWestland
  • Introduction – 1986
  • Crew – 2
  • Length – 58 ft 2 in (17.73 m)
  • Rotor diameter – 48 ft 0 in (14.63 m)
  • Engine – 2 × General Electric T700-GE-701 turboshaft engines, 1,690 shp (1,260 kW) each (upgraded to 1,890 shp (1,409 kW) T700-GE-701C for AH-64A/D from 1990)
  • Range – 257 nmi (296 mi, 476 km) with Longbow radar mast
  • Combat Range – 260 nmi (300 mi, 480 km)
  • Service Ceiling – 20,000 ft (6,100 m)
  • No Built – 2,400
  • Status – In service, in production

Arguably the deadliest and most successful attack helicopter in the United States military arsenal, the Apache is a favorite of several war movies and documentaries. The Apache is so popular it is not uncommon to walk into any teenage boy’s bedroom and see its poster up against the wall alongside hypercar and pop star pictures. During its three decades of service, it replaced the AH-1 Cobra as the United States Army’s primary attack helicopter with several successful combat deployments, including the Persian Gulf War, the Iraq War, and Afghanistan. All Apache helicopter variants seat two in a tandem cockpit arrangement. And the airframe is equipped with a nose-mounted target acquiring and night vision systems, a cockpit-mounted battle management system, and a twin-turboshaft engine capable of 166 mph combat speed. Standard armament on the AH-64 includes an armor-piercing 30-mm (1.18 in) M230 chain gun, AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, and Hydra 70 rocket pods. Newer Apache variants, the Ah-64 D (Longbow) and the AH-64 E have more powerful engines, a glass cockpit, digital connectivity, more sophisticated radar systems, and digital battle management systems. The Apache AH-64 attack helicopter is in service with several nations, including the United Kingdom (AgustaWestland Apache), Greece, Japan, Singapore, Netherlands, and the U.A.E.

The best Russian attack helicopters.

4. Mil Mi-24 Hind

Mil Mi-24 Hind - The 14 Best Attack Helicopters in the World

  • Manufacturer – Mil
  • Introduction – 1972
  • Crew – 2
  • Length – 17.5 m (57 ft 5 in) fuselage only
  • Rotor diameter – 17.3 m (56 ft 9 in)
  • Engine – 2 × Isotov TV3-117 turboshaft engines, 1,600 kW (2,200 shp) each
  • Range – 450 km (280 mi, 240 nmi)
  • Service Ceiling – 4,900 m (16,100 ft)
  • No Built – 2,648
  • Status – In service

The Soviet Mi-24 looks fearsome, just standing still. The massive helicopter gunship and troop transport (8 passengers) has been in service with the Soviet Air Force since 1972 and remains in service with the armed forces of several countries. It is the oldest attack helicopter in continuous service, a testament to its reliability and multirole capabilities. Dubbed the “flying tank” by Soviet-era pilots, the twin-engine Mi-24 has heavy armor for heavy close-range combat action, including titanium rotor blades. Its massive firepower consists of an internally mounted 12.7 mm Yakushev-Borzov Yak-B Gatling gun, twin-barreled GSh-30k/twin-barreled GSh-23L/GIAT dual feed 20mm autocannons, and window mounted PKB machine guns. The Mil-24 can carry almost 2 tons of bombs and missiles of different varieties on its external bomb bays. Beloved by military helicopter crews around the globe for its lethal delivery and heavy armor, the Mil-24 continues to fly combat missions to this day, proving its worth as one of the best attack helicopters ever made.

3. Kamov Ka-52 Alligator

Kamov Ka-52 Alligator - The 14 Best Attack Helicopters in the World

  • Manufacturer – Kamov
  • Introduction – 2008
  • Crew – 2
  • Length – 13.53 m (44 ft 38 in)
  • Rotor diameter – 2 × 14.5 m (47 ft 7 in)
  • Engine -2 x TV3-117VMA turboshaft engines, 2 x 2,200 shp (1,618 kW) each
  • Range – 520 km ( 323.11 mi,  280.77 nmi)
  • Combat Range – 470 km (290 mi, 250 nmi)
  • No Built – Over 100
  • Status – In service, in production

Codenamed “Hokum” by NATO, the Kamov Ka-52 Alligator is a twin-engine day/night all-weather attack helicopter derived from the Kamov Ka-50 “Black Shark” attack helicopter. Although it shares 85% of its airframe components and systems with its Ka-50 older sibling, the Ka-52 is easily distinguishable by its more rounded nose profile, twin-antenna radar system, and side-by-side cockpit seats. The Ka-52 attack helicopter has Kamov’s signature coaxial rotor system eliminating a tail rotor and making the Ka-52 “Alligator” one of the most maneuverable and best attack helicopters in the world. The Ka-52 carries many weapons, including unguided rockets, anti-tank missiles, and air-to-air missiles. It has an advanced battle management system capable of exchanging live data with ground troops and other helicopters. The Ka-52 can also function as an aerial command post for helicopters during combat operations providing target detection software and coordinates. The Ka-52 has seen significant action in the Russian invasion of Ukraine with images of the attack helicopter flying combat sorties.

2. Kamov Ka-50 Black Shark

Kamov Ka-50 Black Shark - The 14 Best Attack Helicopters in the World

  • Manufacturer – Kamov
  • Introduction – 1995
  • Crew – 1
  • Length – 16 m (52 ft 6 in)
  • Rotor diameter – 2 × 14.5 m (47 ft 7 in)
  • Engine – 2 × Klimov VK-2500 turboshaft engines, 1,800 kW (2,400 shp) each
  • Range – 545 km (339 mi, 294 nmi)
  • Combat Range – 470 km (290 mi, 250 nmi)
  • Service Ceiling – 5,500 m (18,000 ft)
  • No Built – 50
  • Status – In service, in production

The KAmov Ka-50 “Black-Shark” is a twin-engine, single-seat attack and scout helicopter with a unique coaxial rotor system. It entered the service of the Russian Army in 1995 and has since seen numerous combat deployments. A unique feature of the Ka-50 is its pilot ejection seat which is rare for a military helicopter. Variants of the Ka-50 include the Ka-50N “nIght Shark” with a nose-mounted Samshit-50T thermal imager, the proposed Ka-50-2 Erdogan variant with Israeli-made “glass cockpit’ for Turkish export, the Ka-52 “Nile Crocodile for the Egyptian market, and the Ka-52K “Katran” for the Russian Navy. The Combat deployments of the Ka-50 include the Second Chechen War, the Syrian Civil War, and the Russian Invasion of Ukraine. A major feature of the Ka-50 weapons system includes a fire control system sharing real-time target information with nearby helicopters, allowing them to fire on the same targets simultaneously. The Ka-50 “Black Shark” is equipped with a single Shipunov 2A42 autocannon firing high fragmentation and explosive incendiary rounds with selective fire, several anti-tank missiles, and rockets.

1. Mil Mi-28 Havoc

Mil Mi-28 Havoc - The 14 Best Attack Helicopters in the World

  • Manufacturer – Mil
  • Introduction – 2009
  • Crew – 2
  • Length – 17.01 m (55 ft 10 in) excluding rotors
  • Rotor diameter – 17.2 m (56 ft 5 in)
  • Engine – 2 × Klimov TV3-117 turboshaft engines, 1,636 kW (2,194 hp) each
  • Range – 435 km (270 mi, 235 nmi) with 5% reserve
  • Combat Range – 200 km (120 mi, 110 nmi) 10-minute loiter with 5% reserve
  • Service Ceiling – 5,700 m (18,700 ft)
  • Status – In service, in production

The twin-engine Mil-28 is Russia’s most modern all-weather, day/night, tandem-seat anti-armor military helicopter, and it ranks among the best attack helicopters developed from Russian technology. Designed to replace the aging Mil-24 attack helicopter, it suffered development setbacks due to funding problems during and after the fall of the Soviet Union. However, the need for an attack helicopter mirroring the capabilities of the Mi-24 Hind became obvious. The heavily armored two-seat cockpit is fitted with an escape hatch for more safety. And standard weaponry includes eight Ataka anti-armor missiles with unguided rocket pods and a single 30 mm cannon. Operators of the Mi-28 included the Russian Air Force, Algerian Air Force, and Iraqi Air Force.

The best European attack helicopters.

2. Agusta/Westland A129 Mangusta

Agusta/Westland A129 Mangusta - The 14 Best Attack Helicopters in the World

  • Manufacturer – Agusta, AgustaWestland, Leonardo-Finmeccanica
  • Introduction – 1990
  • Crew – 2
  • Length – 12.28 m (40 ft 3 in)
  • Rotor diameter – 11.9 m (39 ft 1 in)
  • Engine – 2 × Rolls-Royce Gem 2-1004D (license-built by Piaggio) turboshaft engines, 664 kW (890 hp) each
  • Range – 510 km (320 mi, 280 nmi)
  • Combat Range – 260 nmi (300 mi, 480 km)
  • Service Ceiling – 4,725 m (15,502 ft)
  • No Built – 60
  • Status – In service, in production

The Agusta A129 Mangusta attack helicopter is Europe’s first. Developed from the ground up as a dedicated attack helicopter, it features several advanced designs ensuring easy operability and reliability. The A129 is often compared to the AH-64 Apache regarding firepower and battle readiness. However, the A129 is a light attack helicopter with less armor plating than its contemporaries. It performs a primary tank-bursting role with exceptional efficiency by firing Hellfire or TOW anti-tank missiles and Stinger or Mistral surface-to-surface missiles. Other weapons include a 20 mm cannon mounted beneath the nose, a 20 mm (0.787 inches) three-barrel Gatling cannon, and several rockets. The A129 Mangusta attack helicopter is in service with the armies of several nations, including a T-129 variant in service with the Turkish Army.

1. Airbus/Eurocopter Tiger

Airbus/Eurocopter Tiger - The 14 Best Attack Helicopters in the World

  • Manufacturer – Eurocopter, Airbus Helicopters
  • Introduction – 2003
  • Crew – 2
  • Length – 14.08 m (46 ft 2 in) fuselage
  • Rotor diameter – 13 m (42 ft 8 in)
  • Engine – 2 × MTR MTR390 turboshaft engines, 972 kW (1,303 shp) each
  • Range – 800 km (500 mi, 430 nmi)
  • Service Ceiling – 4,000 m (13,000 ft)
  • No Built – 180 (July 2019)
  • Status – In service, in production

The twin-engine Eurocopter Tiger (Tigre in France and Spain) is a multirole medium attack helicopter with an all-composite airframe. It features several advanced technologies, including a glass cockpit, stealth technology, and high maneuverability. Available in air-to-air attack and fire-support variants, the Eurocopter Tiger carries an assortment of weapons to help fulfill its role. These include Trigat or HOT-3 anti-tank missiles, autocannons, and several guided rockets. The Eurocopter is in service with the armies of France, Germany, Spain, and Australia. Its combat deployments include Afghanistan, Libya, and Mali.

The best Chinese attack helicopters.

1. CAIC WZ-10 Fierce Thunderbolt

CAIC WZ-10 Fierce Thunderbolt - The 14 Best Attack Helicopters in the World

  • Manufacturer – Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation
  • Introduction – 2012
  • Crew – 2
  • Length – 14.15 m (46 ft 5 in)
  • Rotor diameter – 12 m (39 ft 4 in)
  • Engine – 2 × WZ-9 turboshaft engines, 930–957 kW (1,247–1,283 hp) each
  • Range – 800 km (500 mi, 430 nmi)
  • Service Ceiling – 6,400 m (21,000 ft)
  • No Built – 180
  • Status – In service, in production

The WZ-10 Fierce Thunderbolt is the Chinese government’s first successful domestic attack helicopter program without reverse engineering existing aircraft or partnering with external aircraft manufacturers. Initially conceived as a partnership with Kamov, the Russian helicopter manufacturer. The collaboration dissolved due to technical differences resulting in Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation (CAIC) single-handedly embarking on the design and production of the WZ-10. Designed for anti-tank warfare, the WZ-10 carries several cannons, missiles, and external hardpoints to hold rockets and bombs. It is equipped with YH millimeter-wave fire-control radar and a slew of electronic warfare suites.