Michael's Dispatches

Helicopter versus RPG

13 Comments

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Waiting for impact.

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Waiting…it should have exploded by now.

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Where did it go?

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We saw no sign of impact.

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Flame still coming out of the tube.

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Still some flame.  At night, this would be easily visible with night vision gear, and of course thermals would see the man with the hot RPG tube.

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The rocket appears to have sailed over the hill.  I hope that there was not a shepherd over there.

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Still smoking.  No explosion.

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We just added one more piece of RPG UXO (unexploded ordinance) to the Afghanistan mess.  Just stepping off of these roads can get you launched into the sky by landmines.

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Last year, an RPG killed 38 people in a single shoot-down.  22 Navy SEALs were lost in that helicopter crash.

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There is talk about how it is better to have an Apache attack helicopter orbiting overhead than to have guns on Dustoff MEDEVAC birds.  But look at those clouds.  This is normal in Afghanistan.  Often, the only cover that will work is you covering yourself.  When it comes to RPG versus low-flying helicopter, it is a fair match.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Andrew · 7 years ago
    Michael,

    In the movie, "Act of Valor," A seal gets hit with an RPG but its a dud and he gets knocked down, but not out. Is this actually possible?
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Benjamin Welsheimer · 7 years ago
      [quote name="Andrew"]Michael,

      In the movie, "Act of Valor," A seal gets hit with an RPG but its a dud and he gets knocked down, but not out. Is this actually possible?[/quote]
      Yes is it. I have seen it in Iraq. They had removed the fuse and it did not go off. It still can and does cause a lot of damage depending on the angle of the hit, but depending on where you get hit you can get right back up.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    C Good · 7 years ago
    Fascinating article. Thank you for posting. It was very interesting to read.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    robin yates · 7 years ago
    it amazes me how little brown skinned men using old weapons sustain firefights with the ultra well equipped USA forces and appear to be still effective after 10 years. Ah, I understand, they are fighting for their country!
    • This commment is unpublished.
      ironargonaut · 7 years ago
      [quote name="robin yates"]it amazes me how little brown skinned men using old weapons sustain firefights with the ultra well equipped USA forces and appear to be still effective after 10 years. Ah, I understand, they are fighting for their country![/quote]
      Define "effective". If you were to measure effective by casualities inflicted, ISAF vs. Taliban. Not very effective. If you define it as ability to take and hold ground. NO. If you define it as causing enough mayhem to sap ISAF resolve, because we don't have enough troops to stop the annoying mayhem. Then yes it could be called effective. If you want to see a repeat of history, find the interview with a North Vietnamese officer who said they new they could not win militarily, but they knew if they held out long enough. The defeatist and antiwar crowd in the USA would win it for them.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Spook · 7 years ago
      It is not so much the weapons as it is the tactics. It is difficult to ID the enemy when they look just like the civilians. You have to wait for them to attack. Once they do they hide their weapon. In Vietnam it was common for the RPG gunner to have no other weapon and just drop the tube at his firing postion and run like hell.
      Spook
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jonny · 7 years ago
    Isnt it pretty difficult to hit a heli with a rpg? They arent guided, so I would think unless youre right next to it, youre going to miss.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dustoff848 · 7 years ago
    It's all about statistics. They've got a zillion of those things and if you shoot at enough helo's...sooner or later you are gonna get lucky. 'Even a blind squirrel sometimes finds a nut'.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Heywood Jablomi · 7 years ago
    You just have to lead correctly and have a little bit of luck to nail a low-flying helicopter with an RPG. I would not want to do it if the helicopter had door gunners, particularly if the gunners had gatling guns. But this is what the MEDEVAC controversy is all about: helicopters with the means to defend themselves, regardless of circumstances. I know that if I were in a MEDEVAC bird, that I would want gunners and machine guns.

    I would love to read an interview with some Kiowa Warrior pilots, especially if they were women.

    I love it when our infidel women warriors kill hadji bad guys, whether they are piloting fast movers, Spectre gunships, or Apaches.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    karen · 7 years ago
    GOD bLeSS U+ 8)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Pete Sheppard · 7 years ago
    They wait until the helo is either flaring to land or just lifting off when the helo is slow and can't maneuver. Then they will try to launch volleys of rockets.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Pete Sheppard · 7 years ago
    I hope this is OK, but this video from Mythbusters via Youtube shows the RPG at normal speed, with slo-mo at the end of the segment.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      C Tyler · 7 years ago
      I liked this. 2:45 has a good angle showing how short the time is between rocket fire and explosion. The 2nd angle high-speed video that is linked in this video shows the warhead explosion shooting out the other side of the trailer so fast it looks instantaneous to even the high speed camera!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kurt Olney · 7 years ago
    Enemy with RPG. Are the predators not picking these guys up? In order to get a shot at the helicopter, they have to hear it coming? In Vietnam, the uber quiet Army-Lockheed YO-3A worked with Cobras with Infant capability as a hunter killer team. The helicopter would be standoff from the YO-3A as it located its target. Do not understand where DOD is on this. The YO-3A is in audible at 1500 feet and visually virtually undetectable. www.yo-3a.com
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Drew · 7 years ago
    "blast your face off"

    Mike, I know how serious war is, but that gave me a chuckle.

    Keep it up and your powder (er ...camera) dry. (10th SFG)

    Pencil Neck
  • This commment is unpublished.
    nellie · 7 years ago
    Obviously if you can get an AH overhead whilst lighter armed helos do their stuff you won't get many locals standing around in the open firing RPGs - but supply & demand usually means this is not feasible. In the meantime arm everyone, including Dustoffs......
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Holy Ted · 1 years ago
    Hi.
    How to prevent backfire of RPG when you want to take down a helicopter while you are at a small room.

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