The Lahatut was acquired by the IAF after the Yom Kippur War being a very attractive option to increase the number of attack helicopters in service at a relatively low cost. The IAF already operated the Bell AH-1 Cobra. The IAF purchased a total of 36 units, 32 after live firing trials in 1977 and 6 more in 1984 after the first delivery was completed. In IAF service the MD-500 was equipped with a turret mounted electro-optical sight and four TOW missiles, two on each side of the fuselage, although these could be replaced by rocket launchers. The Lahatut has been used in counterterrorist operations in Southern Lebanon and in raids in Palestinian territory. They also engaged Syrian armour at the Beirut-Damascus highway, in one of the largest tank battles in Israeli history.
It was introduced in Update "Danger Zone". The MD-500TOW platform is characterized for it's mobility, agility and in general being a very nimble helicopter. The Lahatut's biggest asset is it's size, being a small target compared to similar BR helicopters like the Mi-8TV, Tzefa B and Mi-24D, it's much harder to be detected or hit by enemy SPAA, which starts to become increasingly dangerous and precise around Rank V with the introduction of ground radars. The Lahatut can be armed with two main weapons, 14 x Hydra 70 rockets or 4 x BGM-71D TOW-2 missiles. The TOW-2 is one of the fastest helicopter based ATGMs at it's BR with 329m/s of speed, this, paired with it's excellent handling, makes it very easy setting up ambushes and attacks close to the frontline
The Lahatut could be considered by some as underpowered, since it lacks the speed and acceleration of dedicated attack helicopters like the AH-1 Cobra. However it compensates this with it's good handling and agility, since being a smaller object allows the Lahatut to pull insane manoeuvres.
| Max Speed
(km/h at 1,000 m)
| Max altitude
Survivability and armour
The Lahatut can be considered anything but survivable, it lacks the armour present in other attack helicopters like the Mi-24D or the AH-1 Cobra. Thus, even with upgrades installed it is vulnerable to HMG and LMG fire from enemy tanks and armoured vehicles.
Modifications and economy
The Lahatut can be outfitted with the following ordnance:
- 14 x Hydra-70 M247 rockets
- 2 x BGM-71C Improved TOW missiles
- 4 x BGM-71C Improved TOW missiles
- 4 x BGM-71D TOW-2 missiles
Custom loadout options
|Hydra-70 M247 rockets
|BGM-71C Improved TOW missiles
|BGM-71D TOW-2 missiles
Usage in battles
In battles and when dealing with enemy SPAA in the area, the Lahatut should when possible, use the BGM-71D TOW-2 ATGMs. Since the Hydra 70 rockets are too little to be of any particular use and the BGM-71C is worst in almost everything to the TOW-2s.
When facing contested airspace, specially by enemy SPAA, the Lahatut can use it's small size and nimble nature to sneak behind the enemy lines or get close to the point that the enemy SPAA can't properly respond to your attacks. Staying close to the ground, attacking with missiles and retreating to cover is also possible, because the TOW-2 is one of the fastest helicopter based missiles at it's BR, specially when compared to other missiles like the AS.11.
The Lahatut lacks any sort of ballistics computer and it also lacks a gun, thus it is important to stay close to the heliport. Once you are out of rockets or missiles you can't do anything else in the Lahatut, only scout and mark enemy positions in the minimap so that your allies know the enemy positions. But still, staying close to the helipad is important, since being far away may get you vulnerable to SPAA or other helicopters whenever you are retreating to allied positions.
Pros and cons
- Fast and nimble
- Has two types of ATGMs that are effective against armoured targets
- Customizable loadout
- No machine guns or cannons, useless against enemy aircraft or other helicopters
- The ATGM range is limited to 3,750 m
- Low survivability
The Lahatut was introduced into the IAF service in 1977 after live fire trials. The helicopter proved very attractive for the IAF, because with it's small size and agility it filled a role that heavier attack helicopters like the Bell AH-1 Cobra couldn't fill. Not only that, the MD-500 only was 1/3 of the price of a Cobra, so it was a cheap way to increase the number of attack helicopters in service with the IAF. A total of 36 units were acquired, 32 after the fire trials in 1977 and 6 more after those 32 were finally delivered in 1984.
The Lahatut has served different roles in the IAF, however most of the time it was equipped with a turret mounted electro-optical sight and four TOW missiles. However this loadout could also be exchanged for 4 x Rocket Pods. The Lahatut was given to the Shooting Lightning squadron and participated in several combat scenarios. The Lahatut participated in raids in Palestinian and Lebanese territory. In the following years the Shooting Lightning squadron and their MD-500 helicopters helped as close air support in the Israeli invasion of the Lebanon.
When Syrian forces entered the fight in June 9th the Lahatut was the main helicopter used to deal with the Syrian armour in the Beirut-Damascus highway, a very large tank battle. The Lahatut not only was tasked with engaging Syrian armour and providing support to Israeli ground forces however, the Shooting Lightning squadron also used the Lahatut to destroy Syrian SAM arrays in Bekaa valley with a series of sorties flying low, close to the ground to destroy ground based radars that could be a danger for the fighter bombers in the area. A single lahatut was lost due to being discovered by a column of Syrian armour that fired shrapnel shells at the helicopter, causing it to crash. The Lahatut was retired from service by the mid 1990s. This was due to the arrival of more competent and modern helicopters like the AH-64 Apache and more modern Cobras, however it was retained for use in IAF flight schools to train new pilots until being fully retired shortly after.
In 1975 the Israeli Air Force received its first batch of 6 American Bell AH-1G Cobra strike helicopters, previously used in Vietnam. Israeli pilots enthusiastically began to master a new type of military aircraft and nicknamed the American helicopters Tzefa - "Palestine viper" - after the largest poisonous snake in the region. A little later, the AH-1G was replaced by the AH-1S equipped with anti-tank missiles, and the Hughes MD500 TOW light helicopters, also equipped with ATGMs to destroy armored vehicles. Israeli attack helicopters received a baptism of fire in 1979 where they were widely used in battle in the First Lebanon War, showing a high combat efficiency. The last helicopters of the AH-1 series were retired from service in 2013.
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