Helos, like planes, are mainly defensive units. A lot of people complain about helo handling, and much of that is because they expect to use helos offensively.
Regardless of how it works in real life, in WRD most helo weapons are intolerant of sudden course changes. Rockets, ATGM and AA missiles can be fired on the move without issue, as long as the helo is moving in a straight line or standing still. Giving a move order in the middle of an engagement will throw these weapons out of alignment for anywhere between one and five seconds as the helo reorients itself. This also happens when attackmoving, as that order makes the helo stop as fast as possible when it meets an enemy.
Weapons will not be disabled for more than half a second if the helo stops as a result of reaching the destination of a normal move order, as long as the order was given early enough to give the unit time to gradually slow down.
So how do you control helos then? You give your helos normal-move orders to positions where you think they’ll have good coverage with their weapons. When the helo has come to a stop, you either let it pick its own targets or give attack orders on targets that are already in range. Manual attack orders on out of range targets result in movement toward the target and then a stop as the helo gets in range, throwing weapons out of alignment, potentially giving the target time to get out of range again so the cycle can start anew. For this reason you’ll mostly be using pure move orders, treating the helo as a turret that needs a second to set up and tear down. This deliberate control that is intolerant of surprises is what makes most helos unsuitable for in-your-face offensive usage.
AA and ATGM helos can also be moved in a straight line parallel to the frontline, briefly shooting anything that grazes their range while moving fast enough to get away from AA if it appears. The goal here is to be close enough to engage potential targets, while staying far enough to escape before AA can land two consequtive hits.
There’s broadly four types of helo armament. Rocket helos have already been covered – they’re devastating fire support, predominantly found in the infantry tab but also present in the helo tab. Rocket helos can fire on the move, but only in a very narrow arc directly infront of them.
Helo autocannons come in many forms. The main role of this weapon is fire support, trading the burst of rockets for slightly more anti-armor effectiveness and the ability to fire on other helos. That last part allows cheap autocannon helos to act as ghetto AA helos, parking over a town and gunning down any transports that try to land. Most autocannons are only practical to fire while stationary due to alignment requirements, but those with a frontally mounted freely rotating gun can be used on the move, making them real gunships. Cheap helos whose autocannons can be used on the move, like the mi-24D or the cassiopee, are among the few helos that are effective offensively.
Gunships are also very useful for clearing friendly forests from behind the lines infantry, especially if they’re bullet resistant (1 armor).
ATGM helos, as expected, bring longrange antitank missiles to the table. While they’re much easier to deal with than the invisible infantry carriers, they’re a good panic buy to stop aggressive tank breakthroughs which have outrun their support. Their range and speed can also be used to block pushes all over the map as long as there is a lack of high-end antihelo AA.
An odd weakness of many of these is that their high price will tempt enemy players into using ASF to strafe and kill them. This is practically guaranteed if you get one into a position where it threatens to kill expensive tanks or stop a push. Therefore it is a good idea to keep AT helos close to friendly AA (defensive usage, remember?).
As an aside, any type of helo under attack by ASF can be saved by calmly using the land command without issuing further move orders. You can still get hit by the gun run, but it increases your chances. Landing can also be attempted when surprised by AA that is too close to fly away from. Almost all helo weapons can be used in landed state. If there is no time to land, moving toward the ASF minimizes the time it can spend doing damage, while moving away commonly results in being shot with two missiles instead of just one.
Finally, AA helos serve to kill other helos and rarely planes. They are most useful during the opener for preventing helodrops, but can also roam the frontline during the midgame, protecting the areas where ground AA is too inconvenient or expensive to deploy.
If your AA helo has longer range than the enemy and you want to use it for kiting, remember that changing directions too fast will lock your weapons, which is suicide in AA duels. To pull it off you’ll need the optics to spot the enemy early enough, and an approach angle that lets you gradually steer away without abandoning the area you’re trying to secure. In other words, don’t rely on being able to kite..