Compiling a list of top ten military helicopters is subjective at best. While this particular list may not be everyone’s top ten, or even fall in an order that is agreeable, most of them in some combination would make just about everyone’s top ten list. This particular list is not broken down according to the main function of the helicopter, but more of an overall evaluation of the aircraft itself.
10. H-13 Sioux – Manufactured by Bell, the Sioux was the first to engage in war for the US military and is often said to be the stepping stone for proving the viability of such an aircraft in a combat environment. Eventually, the H-13 was replaced by the OH-6. The value of the H-13 Sioux was such that it was used by well over a dozen countries around the world.
9. MH-6 Little Bird – This MH-6 was a versatile helicopter fulfilling various roles for the military. They were used for observation and as attack helicopters and transports. The Little Bird has been involved in a number of conflicts including Iraq.
8. CH-53 Super Stallion – The Super Stallion was heavily relied on during the Vietnam War. The backbone of the US Navy’s heavy lift aircraft, this helicopter is often used for mine sweeping. The Super Stallion is known for flying directly into combat and is still widely used across the world by both the US Navy and the US Marines.
7. MI-24 Hind – Manufactured by the MIL Moscow Helicopter Plant, the MI-24 Hind is a two seat, gun-ship helicopter often referred to as Crocodile. The MI-24 was versatile and could be used as an attack helicopter or to carry troops. The Hind has participated in battle on three different continents.
6. CH-47 Chinook – This fast and agile helicopter was first deployed in Vietnam and quickly became noted for its distinct “chopper” sound which could be heard from a distance. The rotors on the Chinook are 60 feet long and contra-rotate, eliminating the need for a rear vertical rotor. With this design, the full power of the engine can be utilized for lifting and thrusting. The Chinook could carry an entire platoon into combat but was also capable of transporting military vehicles and cargo. Countries throughout the world are still using variants of the CH-47 Chinook today.
5. Westland Lynx – Manufactured by Agusta Westland, the Lynx’s design provided both maneuverability and speed, speed which broke world records. The aircraft served various uses in the UKs military and is still utilized throughout the world.
4. AH-1 Cobra – The AH-1 is the first gunship helicopter specifically designed to fly into battle and provide air support for ground operations, thus revolutionizing military tactics. The Cobra was paired up with the OH-6 as a hunter-killer team, which proved to be quite successful.
3. UH-1 Iroquois (Huey) – Introduced in 1959, the Huey served to revolutionize the use of helicopters in the US as well as around the world. This aircraft has been involved in conflict throughout the world but remains most symbolic with the Vietnam War. Variants of the UH-1 Iroquois (Huey) are still used 50 years later in over 70 countries nationwide.
Get up close and personal with a Huey Helicopter at the Armed Forces History Museum. The UH-1 Iroquois is one of the many impressive vehicles on display in the outdoor display area at the museum. Inside, the Vietnam Ho Chi Minh Trail diorama comes alive with the sound symbolic of the Vietnam War - the helicopter.
2. Apache Longbow – The Apache was designed after the Cold War in an attempt to ease the fears of a Soviet ground attack in Europe. This helicopter included state of the art technology which allowed it to operate both in day light and night time hours. The Longbow was built to stand up even under harsh weather conditions and front line combat.
1. UH-60 Black Hawk – The UH-60 Black Hawk can best be described as an upgraded version of the UH-1 and has been used in every operation the US has entered since its inception. Often referred to as the “Night Stalker” this aircraft has a variety of uses. The Black Hawk can carry up to 11 fully armed troops directly into combat, can carry an extraordinary payload of armament but can also be used as a Medevac transporter, a reconnaissance aircraft and a command and control vehicle. This impressive helicopter is still logging countless hours even today in Iraq.
This impressive list of aircraft is far from conclusive. When considering a top ten list of military aircraft, a definitive list that can be unanimously agreed upon is difficult at best as even the strictest guideline can quickly crumble to a personal preference.