DCS: UH-1H Huey - offense tactics



I totally love graphical engines that manage to effectively reduce colour saturation with lack of light.
The first game ever I saw doing this was Operation Flashpoint. The Original and only one.

Utterly amazed at the realism attainable in home systems nowadays.


You could try putting a MANPADS commander unit with the infantry group. My understanding is they’re supposed to be “equipped” with NVGs, and I think the targets they spot get propogated out through the group.


That sounds like a cool mechanic! Sadly I’m unsure if it works at the moment.

I set up a daytime mission with an Igla MANPADS first to make sure I am not missing anything and tested a few things out initially (visuals etc.):

The Igla gets going with a tiny flash against the ground, barely visible from altitude - no big puff or anything:

The rocket engine then starts - still not something you are likely to notice from the cockpit unless it is right in front of you (helicopter is at 2000ft AGL here):

What it looks like when the Huey takes one up the, well, you know. Interestingly, the blast doesn’t cause instant certain death - must be a smaller boom than an RPG. I actually got away with a few broken windows and soiled underpants here.

Flares are very effective, though, and the missile doesn’t appear to have a proximity fuse.

Also - the Igla guy fires 3 missiles in relatively quick succession, after which he is out of ammo.

Anyway, back to @near_blind’s point re MANPADS commanders at night.

I first tested whether Igla guys work at night without a commander. They don’t, you can fly right over them.

I then tested whether an Igla + commander team would work. Interestingly, that didn’t work either.

See below - I flew straight and level over the team, well within range (the TacView unit graphics are wrong but never mind that). Nothing. Same thing with commander + infantry. No action.

So it looks like that mechanic either isn’t there or was broken at some point…ah well. Safer times for me in the Huey :slight_smile:


I’d have to ask my old man what they were concerned about in the 70s and 80s, but I’m pretty sure small arms and AAA were bigger for UH-1 crews, given what they were normally doing. Flying NOE tends to reduce the exposure time to get a missile lock, but side effect is now everybody and their brother can shoot at/throw rocks at your helicopter!


Your old man flew the Huey? Very cool.

It is definitely a case of ‘pick your poison’ – the higher you go, the safer you are from AAA / small arms but if there’s a risk of radar SAMs or AAMs, not being NOE is very risky. NOE in an unknown threat environment really is the only safe-ish option in a non-RWR equipped helo.

On the other hand, in a sanitised threat environment (no enemy radar SAMs, friendly fighter cover), being at altitude maintains better SA. If you are vigilant and keep jinking a bit, it is possible to spot and dodge tracers before you’re within the lethal bubble.

Also - knowing the maximum engagement altitudes of the units enables a layered attack profile if you don’t have to stay NOE (that’s what I’m testing out now anyway).

Take a convoy with trucks, RPG & AK infantry, couple of Iglas and a couple of BMP-3’s. The Iglas and the BMP’s 30mm autocannons have the most range.

  1. Circle / clover leaf the convoy at 2000ft AGL until Iglas launch – defeat Iglas with flares, jink the autocannon bursts and count the missiles. Do an extra circle after the Iglas have stopped firing to make sure they are expended.

  2. Circle the convoy at minimum 1200-2000 feet AGL, with the door miniguns at ‘return fire’, circa 5000 ft slant range. The BMPs will engage with autocannons but the bursts can be dodged at this range. Door guns hose down the BMP’s and won’t engage other targets as they aren’t firing back.

  3. Most of the dangerous stuff is now silent, as long as you stay outside the altitude / range of the small arms / RPGs. Maintain altitude above 1200 ft AGL and sanitise the rest (rocket runs / flex guns / door guns on free fire).

While really dangerous, those kinds of targets (and even the non-radar guided 23mm AAA units) can be defeated with the right tactics, at least some of the time…the insurmountable close-range enemy is the radar SPAAGs: ZSU-23-4 is virtually impossible to kill with the Huey and I’m sure the M163 Vulcan and the German Gepard aren’t much better. I haven’t even bothered to butt heads with a Tunguska, as that’ll be even worse, no doubt. With the ZSU the only option is to dodge the first max-range bursts (and recognise them for what they are), get out of dodge and call the local KA-50 / A-10 CAS service provider.


Yup, he went to flight school in '77. Training on the Hughes/Schweizer 300, then on to fly the UH-1V for about 5 years before going to UH-1Hs as an instructor pilot before transferring to C-23s and C-12s, followed by UH-60As at the end of his flying career. Also put some time on the OH-58A/C and OH-6. I think he told me he had about ~3,000 flying hours, but I’d have to ask again. He flew with a lot of guys who were in Vietnam, including some AH-1 and UH-1 attack guys (one of his friends who was a crew chief on UH-1Cs gave me a B-2 stealth bomber model when I was 7). Hence why I’m probably a little too involved in Army Aviation. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

We’ve talked about this kind of thing a lot, back when I was working on the AH-64D for ArmA2, so it’s why the general consensus when it comes to using the UH-1 for attack is “don’t do it.” For example, they didn’t use the armament subsystems on the 1H much/at all because it had a tendency to chew up the airframes, especially around the mounting points. Also, fancy gunsights are heavy and add weight, so ditch them and use a grease pencil on the windshield. Just as effective, and maybe the crew chief won’t have to run alongside until the heli gets up to speed!

In the context of the game, as you’ve found out, it just makes things really hard, especially operating solo!

The UH-1 is really tough; I shot it with an R-60M the other day when playing around with the Su-25T’s attack mission, and while it went down with all crew, it was still alive on the ground. 50x30mm cannon shells, 4x80mm rockets, and a pair of Vikhrs later resulted in a fire that went out each time. So… Delta wood!


This is actually so cool and useful I’m printing it and adding it to my Huey Knee Board.


Hehe I give no guarantees of survival! :stuck_out_tongue: Still figuring out / confirming the specifics…but you just gave me the good idea of making knee board pages of the findings - thank you!


Like any Airforce manual did… :wink:
No, but seriously- thanks, that is actually interesting.


Well, now that you’re going to print it out and all - I had to make sure it works in practice, not just on paper.

Convoy attack - test run

2 BMP-3’s
20 Infantry (AK / RPG)
A few trucks / other unarmed vehicles

Approaching the convoy with a narrowing circle at 2500 ft AGL:

Front BMP-3 opens fire first at 1.8NM / 11,000 ft slant range.

Followed by the Iglas:

More Iglas follow:

Take out the BMP’s first. 2260 ft AGL, circa 4800 ft slant range. Side gunners return fire ROE.

More of a general hosedown once the BMP’s are taken out. Left gunner ran out of ammo so had to switch circle direction. Also poured in the rockets. Pretty much my only issue was to remember to stay above 1000 ft while looking to the side - I dipped under a couple of times and took a 7.62mm hit or two, nothing major though.

All the vodka spilled - nobody going home to babushka.


What a 23mm round does to the Huey engine - look at the detail! Entry hole, oil spilled…pretty neat.


Engine? Looks like the tranny ate it.


I stand corrected. :slightly_smiling_face:


I’ve flown a couple of ‘fast missions’ with a combat load on the Huey to just throw me in a random spot and test a few things. Full disclosure - I kept full labels on, which obviously makes a massive difference.

Anyway, as part of those adventures I ended up in a situation where I had the opportunity to engage a Shilka situated next to a patch of forest, perhaps 100m x 100m size. I dropped NOE below the Shilka’s LOS, behind the trees, got some airspeed going and popped up from above the trees with the rockets ready.

(due to the undulating terrain, I had to turn TacView ground off, which is why the graphics look a bit off)

Surprisingly, it worked. Importantly, the Shilka doesn’t start to turn its turret until he has LOS (although it is immediate from when he does) and I had time to plant a few rockets on him. Ideally there wouldn’t be a trio of T-72B’s 1500 ft away but I did scrape away with a couple of non-lethal hits in this instance.

This lead me to think that while a radar-tracking AAA is pretty much impossible to kill in an open terrain situation, perhaps I can use the now-collidable trees (and other ground obstacles) and my ever-observant door gunners / co-pilot to my advantage against them.

Enter the SPAAG-hunt scenario. A town with half a dozen Shilkas dotted in (I added in a few Iglas too but that’s a story for a different time). Mission-design wise I made the mission so I know they are there but the labels are off and I have no way of knowing exactly where…or spotting them before they fire.

This is what the opening scene looked like. There are actually 23mm rounds in the air already but impossible to see from the still screenshot.

Upon spotting the tracers, I enter into a tight positive-G descent. This needs to be aggressive as the Shilka tracks really well.

In the dive, tracers visible near the left windscreen wiper. Distance to Shilka circa 1.5nm.

Duck down low. Here’s where the discoveries begin.

The gunners and co-pilot on return fire / free fire ROE will fire in the exact direction of the Shilka, even though there are buildings between us and no LOS.

So while the Shilka’s turret currently isn’t tracking us (no LOS), the gunners are tracking it and firing, ignoring the obstacles. I can use this ‘feature’ as a compass of sorts to get closer - just align my direction to where the crew is firing.

Hi Shilka - here, have a knife between the shoulderblades:

Unlike tanks, the Shilka is a glass cannon - a good short burst from the minigun or a rocket will destroy it quickly. So if you can get close, you actually have a chance to come out as the winner in a 1-to-1 situation.

This warrants more investigation.


Some more Shilka tests done.

I put the Shilka behind an apartment building in the Caucasus map and approached from behind the building.

Somewhat confused by the results. Sometimes it seemed the Shilka would ‘spot’ me and start tracking me with the turret from behind the building and indeed start attempting to fire through it, same behaviour as with my door gunners and co-pilot.

Other times the Shilka wouldn’t do that, but would ‘wake up’ (lift radar) when I got close enough (could be a simulated response to rotor sound?). I wonder if the LOS gets triggered even if the very edge of the rotor disk has LOS to a single pixel of the tank (rather than to the turret, for example).

So all that wake up / tracking stuff is a bit unclear and needs more testing…however, this was interesting:

It seems that even an excellent-skill level Shilka takes about 10-12 seconds of active tracking to fire. If that’s the case, that’s a long time. Plenty of time.


The enemy’s view of one of my earlier practice runs (just learning the basics of the video editor / YouTube):


Chopper SEAD, impressive. You are lucky the strela’s flare rejection sucks so bad.


Yeah - 100 kts isn’t exactly an ideal speed for wild weaseling!

The older SAMs eat the flares quite eagerly, Iglas act the same. Problem is, you don’t really know what’s down there before you’re well committed :grin:


Haha yes how right you are! I once was flying it in IGLA territory and my co-pilot just kept calling them out, put them abeam and dived a bit and for some reason I got through in one piece. Didn’t feel like a realistic situation though.


Dunno, if I was manning those IGLA it’s realistic enough. :laughing: