Let me start off by saying this is not ann add-on suggestion, though I did contemplate posting this in that forum section. If a moderator feels this would be more at home there, feel free to move it.
Thing is, lately I've heard a lot of people gripe about the exclusion (for the time being at least) of the Mi-24 attack helicopter. I, like most people, find it is sorely missed from the weapons arsenal we have in Armed Assault. It is a lovely helicopter and really does deserve to be in the game, but we shouldn't forget its Western "counterpart"!
Right now I'm going through pilot trials for the Royal Netherlands Airforce, in which I hope I'll fly an AH-64D Apache in the not too distant future. The Apache, more specifically the Delta, is a phenominal aircraft with amazing recon and attack capabilities and really does overshadow the AH-1 we currently have. I remember there being an AH-64A in the original Operation Flashpoint and I loved buzzing through the skies in that baby.
I am pretty confident a form of Apache will be added to Armed Assault, much like it was added to the original Flashpoint. However, there are a couple of things that need to be addressed in my opinion to make the (Longbow) Apache a worthwhile addition.
First of all we will need (semi-) accurate sensor displays and sighting devices. Just having "night vision goggles" will not cut it anymore. We need to whole nine yards, IR-displays, NV, motion trackers, the list goes on. Not all of these can be added to Armed Assault, but I'm pretty confident at least NV and IR are not too difficult to do. This would make the Apache a more deadly fighting machine as you will be able to track heat signals from quite a distance while keeping a low profile, striking at the most oppertune moment. Right now initiating a Hellfire attack with a Super Cobra at night involves flying right over the convoy, hovering in front of them, turning on your lights so your targeting computer can identify the targets, hitting 'TAB' about twenty times in short succession to get a lock, fly away as quickly as you can before the enemy gunners can swiss you and then returning to fire a hellfire. Rinse and repeat. This shouldn't be what a Hellfire surprise attack should look like at all. If realistic AH-64Ds were to be implemented in Armed Assault, we'd need two different models of Delta Apache.
First of all we'd need the AH-64D Longbow Apache, the second would be the AH-64D Apache. Longbow Apaches are equipped with the millimeter-wave fire control radar target acquisition system (FCR in short) which enables them to hover low behind cover, while the FCR paints targets for other AH-64Ds to attack. One in every three AH-64Ds in a squadron is a "Longbow" Apache, and the only way they differentiate from regular AH-64D Apaches is by their FCR, mounted on top of the rotor head. These domes are interchangeable in between 'D' type Apaches, so any AH-64D can be a "Longbow" Apache.
Let's sketch a situation where four Apaches are assigned with taking out a convoy of about eight T80s. One of the Apaches is flying the Longbow configuration, and all four are armed with Longbow Hellfire missiles (Hellfires specifically designed to be used with the FCR, in essence they are 'fire-and-forget' Hellfires). The Longbow Apache takes up position on the flank of the convoy behind some trees while the other three Apaches hover out of sight behind a hill, shielded from any sound or sight by the slope of the hill. The Longbow Apache pops its FCR above the treeline for a quick scan. Immediately, target information is downloaded to the Hellfire missiles of all four Apaches and they all interchange target data and target priority, assigning different targets to each Apache as the FCR scans. All that has to be done now is allow the Hellfires a clean line of fire, deliver the payload and while the Hellfires are on their way to their targets, turn back to base.
Also, for detail's sake, a new helicopter pilot model would be nice if the Apache is ever to be included. The integrated combat helmet used by the Apache is very different to the standard helmet used by a lot of other helicopters. It is called the 'Honeywell M142 intergrated helmet and display sight system' (or IHADSS for short) and is probably the heart of any Apache. For Armed Assault all it'd probably add is the 'nice looking' factor.
I hope a more accurate representation of the Apache can be achieved in Armed Assault, as in Flashpoint it was pretty rudementary.
PS. Also imagine how nice it would look having the AH-1N we have now fly in formation with the Longbow Apache. As far as I know, the AH-1 we have in Armed Assault is also equipped with Longbow Hellfires, which should make it possible to lock on to Longbow-assigned targets. One can only hope...
PS2. Thanks for bearing with me.
PS3. Oh yeah, and merry Christmas in advance.