Russia’s newest military helicopter unit has gone through its final testing phase to be officially “combat ready”. Equipped with the Ka-52 Alligator, the Mi-28N Night Hunter and the Mi-35M Hind the military attack helicopter squadron of the Southern Military District underwent its flight-tactical exercise near Kuban in the Krasnodar District.
The unit’s Ka-52s arrived late 2016 to reinforce Mil choppers and get a total combat strength of 20 rotary wing, plus reserves. Flown by 60 pilots and navigators combined, and supported by 150 ground crew and other personnel, the full squadron embarked on relocation exercises, tactical airborne assaults in mountainous areas as well as attack of armoured and soft targets using the onboard guns and missile systems.
The Russian Ministry of Defence is not elaborating too much on details other then saying 60 unguided missiles were fired on 20 different kind of targets.
Russian War games
Also at other locations in Russia, attack helicopter units are engaged in war games. An army aviation brigade in the Pskov region (Western Military District) was brought to the highest state of alert, flying 30 sorties a day for four days in row with its Ka-52 and Mil Mi-8AMTSH helicopters.
It is believed that in the case of an armed conflict Russia will be able to quickly attack and control large areas – for example cities like Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius or parts of Kiev – by flying its very mobile assault helicopter units in from forward operating locations in Russia or Belarus, supported by Russian Air Force combat fighter jets and jamming capability.
Window shopping again, or more than that this time? After several failed attempts and growing friction with suppliers, Poland is having another go at beefing up its helicopter capabilities. The country is looking for eight anti-submarine choppers plus another eight helos for use by special forces, the ministry of Defense in Warsaw said on Monday 20 February.
Airbus Helicopters, Leonardo Helicopters and Lockheed Martin have been asked to come up with bids. The new choppers should replace ageing Mi-8 Hip and Mi-14 Haze helicopters that have been in Polish services for decades already, dating back to Eastern Bloc-times.
For Airbus Helicopters, this newest Polish tender will breng back the headaches that came with the selection of the H225 Caracal by Poland back in April 2015. After much hassle, that 3 billion USD deal was finally scrapped last year. Lockheed Martin (after taking over helicopters manufacturer Sikorsky first) then seemed to have the best cards for a Polish helicopter deal. However, that too appeared to be window shopping in the end.
The Russian Army Aviation Squadron at Erebuni Airbase in Armenia is now fully up to speed. The last helicopters that arrived in December 2015 have been assembled, and are now added to the fleet.
With the final choppers ready for action the squadron at Erebuni tends to keep 10 attack and assault helicopters operational at all times, comprising a mixed fleet of Mil Mi-24 Hinds and Mi-8 Hips, according to a statement of the Russian Ministry of Defence. The goal is to have a total of 18 Mi-24P (Hind-F) and Mi-8MT/SMVs at the base, with some of those held in reserve.
The squadron pilots are now flight testing and commenced training on the latest machines, flying at 300 to more than 10,000 feet in various weather conditions on different mission types, day and night. Steady part of the training is conducting combat simulation in mountainous areas.
The 3624th Air Base Erebuni is also home to a Russian Air Force squadron which aims to have up to sixteen MiG-29 on strength, as well as much of the small Armenian Air Force. The base and civilian airport is located nearby the Armenian capital of Yerevan, at 3,000 feet above sea level and surrounded by a mountain range.
While Mil designed Mi-8 transport helicopters have fallen pray to missile attacks in Ukraine, Afghanistan and many other of the world’s hotspots, that will be a thing of the past according to a spokesperson of the Russian Eastern Military District.
Russian press agency RIA Novosti quotes this Alexander Gordeyev as saying that the new Mi-8AMTSh Terminator will be “immune” against enemy missiles, by using an electronic jammer against optical and radar guided devices and a laser beam to shoot down incoming heat-seeking projectiles.
The new system is said to be installed on the new special armoured assault version of the Hip dubbed Mi-8AMTSh, apparently at an airbase in the Lesosibirisk area. The rotary wing will then train in inserting troops and provide them with close-air support once on the ground, plus flying combat search and rescue missions. Its weaponry will include unguided and possible guided missiles against surface targets up to main battle tank level and against slow-moving aircraft, helicopters and drones.
Russian Mi-8AMTSh order
The AMTSh has a is fully night-vision compatible cockpit with digital systems. In December 2014 the Russian military signed an order for 40 Mi-8AMTShs, then still without the new electronic/laser self-protection suite.
The Bangladesh Armed Forces received five brand new Mil Mi-171SH tactical transport helicopters on 10 December 2015, manufacturer Russian Helicopters announced.
Made in the Ulan-Ude aViatin Plant the five choppers have been supplied including contemporary navigation systems to make them usable in almost any weather condition, day or night. The “Hips” – as the NATO-reporting name for the type goes – can accommodate up to 37 paratroopers, up to 12 wounded on stretchers or a cargo load of up to 8,818 lbs (4,000 kg ). In Bangladesh Air Force service the Mi-171 serves not only as transport, but also as search-and-rescue, medevac and training helicopter.
Bangladesh Mi-171 crash
The Bangladesh Mi-171SH order was signed in 2013 and is a follow up on two earlier purchases of each 3 machines. The Bangladesh Air Force is aiming at having 15 of the Mi-171SH in total, after another five were ordered this year. The quick calculators among you miss a 16th machine. True, that one crashed on Chittagong Airbase on 13 May 2015, injuring three crew.
Apart from the SH-version Bangladesh also flies 13 standard Mi-171s, three similar Mi-17s and two Mil Mi-17-1V for VIP duties, putting the total projected fleet at 30 Hips.