The AH-60 Direct Action Penetrator gives Special Operations Forces a long Range attack capability

///The AH-60 Direct Action Penetrator gives Special Operations Forces a long Range attack capability

Bijan Razzaghi

The AH-60 DAP (Direct Action Penetrator) has been critical in providing air support for Special Operations forces since the aircraft’s introduction in 1990. The latest AH-60M variant utilizes the latest in digital avionics and includes new engines and rotor blades for enhanced flight performance in harsh conditions. The AH-60 is an attack variant of the UH/MH-60 Blackhawk which is used primarily as an armed transport and utility helicopter.

The AH-60 has two stub wings with four pylons in total allowing the aircraft to employ laser guided AGM-114 hellfire missiles, 2.75 mm hydra rockets ,20mm cannon pods and 7.62 mm gun pods. The aircraft also has a turret mounted m-320 30mm cannon under the nose, which can be controlled by the pilots helmet mounted queuing system by (ebbit systems). The cabin which is usually used to transport troops is taken up by ammunition used by the chain gun or cannon pods allowing it to be directly fed into the gun. The Aircraft can fly at speeds of up to 222 mph and cruise at 170 mph. The aircraft has a combat radius of 320 miles yet the inflight refueling probe allows the aircraft to have unlimited range. This feature is what sets the AH-60 apart from the AH-64 Apache and AH-1 Viper/ Super Cobra attack helicopters.

AH-60 Direct action penetrators have played a major role in supporting US Special Operations Forces in Operations over Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. All AH-60s are piloted by members of the 160th SOAR. Currently the high speed long range CV-22 Osprey and the large MH-47 Chinook are not capable of employing rockets, or Hellfire missiles as a result AH-60s can use there in flight refueling capability to escort these larger transport aircraft to targets where Apaches and Cobras cannot deploy. This makes the AH-60 the perfect attack helicopter for Special Operations forces around the world. The AH-60 has been sold to Israel and the UAE to augment those countries attack helicopter fleets and to be used in armed reconnaissance operations.