Fastest Military Attack Helicopters in the World

Updated on September 30, 2018
Savio Dawson profile image

Savio is a resident of Mumbai, India. Cars, bikes, and everything fast is his passion, and he writes about them on numerous reputable sites.

Military Helicopters - An Introduction

In the military world, precedence is given to the military aircraft, bombers, and drone but not much is spoken about the choppers. Strategically, a chopper forms a greater asset in reconnaissance, retrieval, combined action and outright attack because of its highly adaptable flight pattern. In a world charmed by the speed of the military aircraft, choppers seem to be too slow. But then again, low-altitude missions require the choppers to be slow. There is no point doing a Mach 2 at low altitude if all that is achieved is the pilot’s heightened blood pressure due to the fear of crashing; that was on a lighter note.

Even bomber only aircraft with low-altitude flight, like the B - 2 or Lockheed F - 117, fly sub-sonic. So, it is all the more reason for the choppers to be slow. But then again they are no pushovers either. Few of the attack helicopters can fly faster than some military drones. That is no small achievement!

Without losing any more time, let’s get to the list.

1. Eurocopter X3

Source

Eurocopter X3 (pronounced as X cubed) is the fastest military attack helicopter in the world. It made its first flight in 2010 and since then has done enough flight testing to be certified for a top speed of 487 kmph. The production-ready version will be called H3 (H cubed) and is expected to be in service before 2020.

  • Name: Eurocopter X3
  • Manufacturer: Airbus
  • Top Speed: 263 knots [302.5 mph or 487 kmph]
  • Cruise Speed: 220 knots [252.8 mph or 407 kmph]
  • Numbers Produced: Testing Completed
  • Status: Expected in operation before 2020

Interestingly, the tail rotor has been removed and is placed on a short stubby wing. Of course, most would know that the tail rotor balances the torque generated by the main rotor and helps the chopper to stay stable, failing which it may spin out of control. These wing rotors achieve the same function but do lend a unique look to the Eurocopter.

2. Sikorsky S - 97 Raider

Source

The second fastest helicopter is from the U.S. arsenal and is the Sikorsky S – 97. This is an aircraft which is an attack cum light transport vehicle. Since 1969, the Russian Mi – 35 [discussed later] was the only one capable of having an attack and transportation ability; otherwise, all helicopters were either attack or transport capable but not both together. It was, therefore, obvious that the defense manufacturers would attempt similar helicopters and the Sikorsky happens to be the latest attempt of them all.

  • Name: S – 97
  • Manufacturer: Sikorsky
  • Top Speed: 239 knots [276 mph or 444 kmph]
  • Cruise Speed: 220 knots [252.8 mph or 407 kmph]
  • Numbers Produced: 3 [Prototypes]
  • Status: Finalization Stage

But it is not for the dual purpose (attack and transport) that the Sikorsky is known for. It has one of the fastest and latest in the technology used in warfare aircraft. Fly-by-wire, Integrated Thermal Management System, Retractable Landing Gear, Active Vibration Control and more are a given. The most important aspect is that it may replace many of the old workhorses, including the Chinook and its variants; that is if it wins the bid.

It does look like a helicopter out of a sci-fi movie.

3. Sikorsky S - 67

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This was a helicopter developed in response to the U.S. Army's request to have an attack helicopter capable of ferrying troops too. Such a helicopter was supposed to be an equivalent of the Mi-24 [Mi-35]. In response to the RFP, Sikorsky came up with the S - 67. This was way before the S - 97 program which we just saw.

  • Name: Sikorsky S – 67 Blackhawk
  • Manufacturer: Sikorsky – A Lockheed Company
  • Top Speed: 200 knots [229.8 mph or 370 kmph] [Never exceed Speed]
  • Cruise Speed: 168 knots [193 mph or 311 kmph]
  • Numbers Produced: 1
  • Status: Never entered Production

The S - 67 was a twin pilot attack helicopter capable of ferrying 8 personnel in light lift mode. However, the model never won the order and in fact, the entire RFP was scrapped at that time owing to a tragedy. The S - 67 in an airshow lost control, crashed and immediately burst-up in flames. Both the pilots were killed in the crash and, though the RFP was scrapped, the S - 67 was conferred the call-name of Blackhawk.

4. Mi - 35

Mi - 24 Shown. Same as export version Mi - 35
Mi - 24 Shown. Same as export version Mi - 35 | Source

The Mi – 35 is derived from the more commonly known Mi - 24. Mi - 35 is one of the export versions of the main chopper. It is an attack helicopter with a medium capacity for carrying 8 military personnel. It was designed to fly fast and there were many firsts that the chopper achieved to be the fastest.

  • Name: Mi - 35
  • Manufacturer: Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant
  • Top Speed: 181 knots [208 mph or 335 kmph]
  • Cruise Speed: 167 knots [192.5 mph or 310 kmph]
  • Numbers Produced: 2,650 [Mi – 24, Mi-25 and Mi – 35 combined]
  • Status: In service

The Mi - 24 was one of the oldest models which was in production since 1969. As a concept of the time, there was no other helicopter which could do the dual role of attack and personnel ferrying at the same time. Of course, they were developed later but at the time of the Mi - 24 (Mi - 35) it was one of the unique models in the world, and fast too! This aspect of the Mi - 35 had led it to be called the only assault helicopter in the world.

5. Mi – 28 N Night Hunter

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The Mi – 28 N is one of the latest attack helicopters coming once again from Russia. This is one helicopter which is in high demand from a number of countries and the export version is ready. Under the export orders, Iraq and Kenya would be one of the first few countries to get their hand on the helicopter. Here are some stats:

  • Name: Mi – 28 N Night Hunter
  • Manufacturer: Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant
  • Top Speed: 162 knots [186 mph or 300 kmph]
  • Cruise Speed: 145 knots [167.7 mph or 270 kmph]
  • Numbers Produced: 126
  • Status: In Service

The Mi - 28 is envisaged to work in attack formation along with the Mi - 24 and Ka -50.

6. Ka - 52 Alligator

Source

The Ka – 52 is a twin seat attack helicopter which is an improvement over the Ka – 50. It can operate round the clock and in all weather. It can function in a dual role of frontline attack as much as target acquisition for the attack group.

  • Name: Ka – 52 Alligator
  • Manufacturer: Kamov JSC
  • Top Speed: 162 knots [186 mph or 300 kmph]
  • Cruise Speed: 145 knots [167.7 mph or 270 kmph]
  • Numbers Produced: 100+
  • Status: In Service

The Ka-52 was built for reconnaissance and attack and its series production started in 2008. The Russian army has ordered 140 of the Ka-52. It carries armaments capable of taking down armored vehicles, non-armored vehicles, troops, and tanks. It has some advanced avionics and as per the needs of the mission, missiles can be carried.

7. AH – 64 Apache

Source

The AH – 64 was the direct outcome of the scrapping of the RFP in which the tragic stricken S - 67 participated. It is one of the first attack helicopters capable of doing a somersault without worrying about the rotor blade coming off. The helicopters of those times used gravity as the main parameter to keep the rotor blades down. It was and continues to be one of the most effective attack helicopters in America’s arsenal.

  • Name: AH – 64 Apache
  • Manufacturer: Boeing
  • Top Speed: 158 knots [182 mph or 293 kmph]
  • Cruise Speed: 143 knots [165 mph or 265 kmph]
  • Numbers Produced: 2500+
  • Status: In Service

The Apache also has export variants and countries like Israel, Greece, Japan, UAE and a few others have operated them; it is still in operation in many of the said countries. It is one of the few helicopters in the world to have multiple redundancies built in to survive battles and continue engaging enemy forces.

Back to the Hangar

That completes the list of few of the fastest attack helicopters in the world. One of the biggest advantages of the helicopters is their static landing and take-off. This proves indispensable for an emergency landing or in war situations the ease of landing even in enemy frontiers. So effective is this one function that even military aircraft tried aping it; the Sea Harrier with vertical lift capability is a great example, especially, on aircraft carriers. Also, many of the new navy ships, like the Independence and Freedom, have a landing, take-off, and storage area for choppers. That is how important choppers are.

Faster choppers still continue to be the need of the Air Force, Army, and Navies of the world. This space may, therefore, see more action. Stay tuned!!

Which was an Interesting Helicopter to know about?

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Disclaimer: The videos added in the article belong to the users who have posted them on youtube. The Author does not own them nor validates that they belong to the ones who posted them on youtube. The videos are included to give some additional information about the subject being discussed.

© 2018 Savio Koman

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