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Broken Arrow - Dev Diary #2 - Helicopters

Published on July 27, 2021

In our previous dev diary we introduced some of the mechanics related to ground combat vehicles. Let’s rise above all this fighting in the mud and focus on a more elevated subject: helicopters.

Helicopters are like cavalry units, they are fast, can pack a lot of punch but are not very resilient. They can have very different profiles depending on their armaments and sensors, which can be customized.

For each pylon you can choose what kind of weapon you want to attach, or simply leave it empty to deploy the helicopter more cheaply.

Unit preview #1: Ka-52 Alligator and AH-64D Apache

Whenever possible, other elements can be customized, such as additional countermeasures, or the longbow radar on the AH-64.

Unit preview #2: AH-64D Apache with longbow radars


The most dangerous machines, they can perform different tasks.

  • Attack helicopters can be equipped with advanced weaponry: missiles can engage tanks at very long range; volleys of rockets can suppress infantry and destroy light vehicles in seconds; guns provide more sustained fire power.
  • They can carry anti-aircraft missiles to shoot down other helicopters and fight off planes.
  • When equipped with the right sensors, attack helicopters can also perform reconnaissance missions.
  • Some attack helicopters, like the Mi-24 and its latest evolution the Mi-35M, have the ability to transport one squad of infantry, even if that’s not their primary role.

The big downside of all helicopters is the limited amount of ammunition they can carry. They need to land to resupply, leaving them very vulnerable to artillery fire.


They can be of various sizes, from the tiny MH-6 little bird that can only transport a few men to the most powerful beasts like the CH-47 Chinook, or the giant Russian Mi-26. This last one can transport multiple squads of infantry at once, supplies and even sling load vehicles across the battlefield.

Unit preview #3: CH-47 Chinook can carry up to 4 squads of infantry and lift vehicles and supplies.


SHORAD stands for short range air defense. These vehicles are the bane of helicopters with their guns and/or missiles.

Unit preview #4: Pantsir S1 anti-air system is armed with 12 ready to fire missiles and 2x 30mm cannons.

Even though they are very deadly to helicopters, they don’t have the same mobility: it’s a game of cat and mouse to avoid enemy anti-aircraft units.

To avoid them, helicopters have the ability to fly “nap of the earth”: they reduce their altitude to hide behind the terrain. This maneuver allows them to avoid being detected, and breaks the line of sight if targeted. The downside is that at such low altitude their flight speed is reduced; this makes them more vulnerable to other threats, such as ground vehicles and infantry.

As a last resort, helicopters equipped with counter-measures can drop them to try to lure missiles away; keep in mind that there’s a limited amount of use and there is nothing you can do against a 30mm shell already flying your way.

Unit preview #5: Nap of the Earth flight


It might look like a rock-paper-scissors system where helicopters hunt tanks, anti-aircraft hunt helicopters and tanks hunt anti-aircraft, but Broken Arrow is not a game of hard counter. The right unit used the wrong way can swiftly be destroyed by what it was supposed to be hunting.

For instance, many tanks have machine guns on the roof. They do not match helicopters’ weaponry but flying over a platoon of tanks that are hiding in a forest will probably get your helicopter killed even if it has 16 Hellfire missiles on board. And if a tank meets with the double fast firing 30mm gun of a Pantsir at close range, chances are the tank will be stripped of all its external sensors, making it inoperable.


The units in Broken Arrow are based on real military equipment, which means that each nation in the game will have its own gameplay style based on the actual vehicles and armaments used by said nation in real life.

For instance, US and Russian doctrines about helicopters are very different, leading to the development of very different equipment. The USA tends to have lighter helicopters but with better sensors, while Russia has heavily armed transports.


If you’d like to discuss this dev diary or anything else about the game, please join us on our official Discord server here.

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