Publié le 06/02/2012

Etienne de DURAND, Benoît MICHEL, Elie TENENBAUM

Military helicopters have evolved into technologically sophisticated weapon systems. Originally designed to counter Soviet armor, attack helicopters now have to cope with a wide spectrum of threats, some of them bringing them back to their counterinsurgency roots.

In this new context, direct fire support of ground forces has superseded airmobile maneuvers and autonomous helicopter forces. Nonetheless, helicopters remain essential for their combat and tactical mobility roles. However, the high cost of these sophisticated platforms and major cuts in defense budgets call into question the ability to provide such tools. Accommodating strong demand in helicopters with present budget constraints requires the adaptation of fleets, since technological advances alone will not provide an answer to this problem. The time of homogenous fleets made up of same-generation, single-use platforms, appears to belong to the past.

This text was previously published in French as "La guerre des hélicoptères. L'avenir de l'aéromobilité et de l'aérocombat [1]", Focus Stratégique, No. 32, June 2011.