The Apache has a 30mm chain gun. It carries Hellfire (anti armor), Stinger/Sidewinder (air to air) and Hydra (air to ground, APKWS guidance package available) missiles.

enter image description here source

The Warthog has a 30mm gatling gun. It carries Maverick (30cm air to ground including armor), Hydra (70mm air to ground) and Sidewinder missiles, plus a variety of bombs.

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The Warthog seems to have a more capable and complex weapons load, so why doesn't it use a separate gunner like the Apache?

From comments:

The ULB (Unmanned Little Bird) version of the AH6 can fly with two, one, or zero pilots, so it seems that helicopters can be automated like fixed wing aircraft. enter image description here source

The Kiowa Warrior 50cal machine gun was not turret mounted; it was fixed to the airframe like the A10, though not buried in it. This is used in an armed recon role, not attack.

enter image description here source

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    $\begingroup$ One important fact is, helicopter is simpler harder to fly than airplane. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 17:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @user3528438 Simpler or harder?) $\endgroup$
    – Pilothead
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 2:27
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Pilothead: I strongly suspect that's a typo (one of several), and it should read "...a helicopter is simply harder to fly than an airplane". $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 2:53

2 Answers 2


Mainly it's because the A10's pilot just has to point his aircraft at the target from a certain height while in forward flight, whereas the helicopter, being able to hover, needs to be able to engage a target while not pointed directly at it, while the pilot is busy flying a machine that takes a lot more attention than a fixed wing aircraft.

Especially when considering the Apache's original tactical function, which was to hover below the tree tops, pop up and engage a Soviet tank, and drop out of sight again. As the pilot you wouldn't want to be managing the weapon systems AND flying the machine and avoiding obstacles.


Warthogs and Apaches are totally different animals. They're different types of vehicles, have different mission requirements and profiles, etc.

One possible explanation is that since the A-10's gun is fixed on the centerline of the aircraft, aiming it is essentially the same process as flying the jet, making the pilot most apt to handle the task. While it may be possible to design the variant of the A-10 with a separate crew station for a weapon systems officer etc., it probably is not needed for its air to mud role. The A-10 was designed around the single pilot role similar to what the A-1 Skyraider was during the Korean and Vietnam conflicts – a very simple and tough air-to-ground attack aircraft that carries largely unguided weapons and minimal avionics. Apaches largely make use of guided weapons, more sensors on board and more rolls to fulfill, so this may have justified the necessity for an additional gunner aboard.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm wondering, has there ever been a single-crew attack helicopter? If you don't know it's fine, I thought it might be relevant. $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 17:33
  • $\begingroup$ I don’t know of any that were accepted into service. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 18:11
  • $\begingroup$ One possibility is the AH-6 “Killer Egg” derivative of the MH-6 Little Bird. They are military variants of the Hughes 500 D helicopter which was outfitted for ground attack against soft targets. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 18:14
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    $\begingroup$ It should be stressed that helicopters have the gun always mounted on turret (with partial exception of Mi-24, where it can only be aimed up and down) and their pitch attitude basically never corresponds to their flight path (while for aircraft it always does except for few degrees). $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 20:37

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