Issue Vol 26.2 Apr-Jun 2011 | Date : 05 Jan , 2013
The Helicopter in Battle: The two widely disparate views cited above on the utility of the helicopter have influenced the use of this versatile platform in military operations. Any discussion on the applications of the helicopter in combat brings back memories of the Bell 47 seen at the beginning of every episode of the popular TV serial M.A.S.H ferrying wounded soldiers to a field hospital in the Korean War, of swarms of Huey UH-1H helicopters landing combat troops in the open fields in Vietnam, of Russian Mi-24 attack helicopters in Afghanistan and downing of two American helicopters in Somalia in the movie Black Hawk Down.
The first reported use of helicopters in combat was during World War II where they were used in light utility roles including search for submarines. The technology was not refined adequately to bring Allied or German helicopters into combat roles, however American helicopters came under fire for the first time in WW II when they were used to evacuate battle casualties from the front line in Luzon, Philippines to hospitals in the rear.
The Vietnam War was the litmus test for helicopters in combat. The operational roles of the helicopter were exploited to the fullest and new tactics evolved as the war progressed.