Specialized attack helicopters have proven useful in providing valuable ground support for infantry and armored vehicles. While they are slower and therefore more vulnerable to ground fire than jet aircraft, attack helicopters can also easily liner in battlefield areas, so they can work much more closely with troops on the ground.
Pakistan’s Army is in possession of a number of AH-1 Cobra gunships. A development of the venerable Bell UH-1 Huey transport helicopter, the AH-1 Cobra was first introduced in 1967 for the Vietnam War, it is the original purpose-built helicopter gunship. The Pakistanis use the AH-1S and F models of this proven design, which have seen use against insurgents in the Northwest Frontier since the 1980s.
Paradoxically, the older upgrade of the Cobra is the S model. The main improvement was putting in a 1,800 hp engine, and all subsequent upgrades were based on this model. The F version includes a laser range finder and infrared suppression on the engine and exhaust, making the helicopter much harder for IR-guided missiles (such as the Stinger) to track. These helicopters have a maximum speed of 172 mph, a range of 274 miles, a maximum climb rate of 1,620 ft/min, and a service ceiling of 12,200 feet. They come armed with a 3 barreled 20mm cannon, and can carry either 2.75″ rocket pods or TOW anti-tank missiles on 4 external hard points.
The Indian Air Force uses the Russian-built Mi-25 and Mi-35 Hind helicopters. The Hind is a combination attack helicopter and light transport, derived from the Mi-8 transport helicopter. It is the most heavily used combat helicopter in the world, having seen action in at least 19 different conflicts.
The helicopter has two engines capable of delivering 2,200 hp each, a maximum speed of 208 mph, a range of 280 miles, and a service ceiling of 14,500 feet. The helicopter typically carries a multi-barrelled 12.7mm heavy machine gun in the nose, but can carry a 23mm or 30mm cannon instead. It also usually comes with door-mounted machine guns. There are 6 external hard points that can carry a plethora of arms in a combined payload of up to 3,300lbs. This can include gun pods, anti-tank missiles, rockets, and heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles.
Result: INDIA! The AH-1F and S model of Cobras are a reliable design, and they are also smaller and more maneuverable than Hinds. This is not a small consideration, and should be by no means overlooked. However, they are also not the latest version of the AH-1 (that is the AH-1W Super Cobra), which means they are lacking in certain capabilities that the Hinds wield.
The Hinds have greater range and greater lift capacity, as well as a higher service ceiling. This means they can carry more ordinance further, higher, and hang around on the battlefield longer. The maximum service ceiling in particular makes the Hind more useful in places like Kashmir. They also have the ability to engage other helicopters with IR-guided missiles, something the AH-W Super Cobra can do, but not the AH-1F and S models.
Sources: globalsecurity.org; http://indianairforce.nic.in/; http://www.pakarmy.com/