As we are seeing so many “black” helicopters in our urban areas, we thought it might be helpful to provide you some familiarity with the various types so we can help us better assess what the government is doing with these various missions.
From the ground it can be hard to distinguish, but if you spend a minute working with it, you will know what to look for right away.
Types of Military Helicopters
Considered the “Work Horse” of the Army, the Chinook, CH-46, is easily identifiable: it has two sets of rotors. It usually accompanies troop transporters and gun ships during a real mission. This one is painted desert camo for Iraq, etc. In CONUS (Continental US), they are usually dark olive green.
The Blackhawk helicopter is specifically designed to carry an Infantry squad of 11-13 people. It looks like a regular helicopter with an elongated body. It can carry M-60 machine guns on the sides. During a real mission, these helicopters protect the Ch-46 Chinooks so soldiers and equipment arrive together.
Also rather easy to spot as they are typically carrying their guns (not always). The shape sets them apart from general utility helicopters because they are longer, sleaker and have a “meaner” look. These include: Apache and the AH-1 Cobra for the most part.
They can fulfill a variety of missions from extraction of troops from hot zones, medevac, transport of VIPs, gunships, if necessary, etc. But these have a generic look to them–more like civilian helicopters without the flare. They also have a more rounded front shape. The most common type is the UD-1 pictured above.
OH-58 Kiowa comes to mind here. They are look stealthier and are unmistakable by their shape. These are the “scouts” of a unit formation. Or they can perform solely for reconnaissance and “observation.” Teamed with a gunship (Cobra or Apache) they are in “Hunter-Killer” mode.