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.
The Iraqi Air Force’s Mil Mi-28NE Night Hunter fleet is now complete, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Defence. That means that 15 of these dedicated attack helicopters are now operating from air bases and forward operation bases somewhere in the Southwest Asian nation.
Officially the aircraft, a product of the Mil design bureau and manufacturer Russian Helicopters, will be used for so-called “anti-terrorist operations”. In reality that means fighting the war against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS / ISIL / Daesh) forces.
Sources in Baghdad say that some of the Mi-28NEs delivered earlier were enrolled in supporting ground forces in the Fallujah and Ramadi areas, where the Iraqi army is pushing back the ISIS troops. Some of the 28 Mi-35M Hind choppers have been deployed as well.
Reports say that this year alone six Iraqi Air Force helicopters were lost in combat, giving hopes to Russian Helicopters to deliver even more choppers to Baghdad in the future. Although the rotary wing lost may have been some of the six remaining Aérospatiale SA342 Gazelles or ten Bell 206s.
According to Russian press agency Interfax on Friday 18 March 2016, quoting military sources, Algeria has become the first (export) customer to buy the Russian Helicopters/Mil Mi-28N Night Hunter with dual-control, a few days after mass production of the type started.
The African country is said to have ordered 40 of these tandem two-seat day/night attack helicopters. Two sticks (or actually four) are handy not only for training purposes, but also in the event of the pilot being wounded by f.ex. ground fire. Talks with Algeria about the purchase have been ongoing ever since 2010.
Night Hunter power plant
The Mi-28NE with dual controls – designed by the famous Mil bureau – concluded its flight test schedule in December 2015. The Night Hunter is powered by Klimov TV3-117VMA-SB3 engines with 2,500 hp. They used to be produced by Motor-Sich of Ukraine, but after since the two countries have been in a military conflict ever since Russia took the Crimean peninsula, the power plants are now produced in Russia.
Hit by shells
The main rotor blades of Mi-28NE with dual controls are made of composite materials that should allow the crew to complete the flight even when hit by 20 millimeter caliber shells. The design of the fuel system excludes explosion or ignition of the fuel.
Mi-28N dual control mass production
The Russian armed forces have not received the dual-control version of the Night Hunter in numbers (yet), but Rostvertol started mass-production of both the Mi-28N (for Russian military) and the Mi-28NE (Export version) on 16 March 2016. The Russian military is believed to order tens of the Mi-28NE with dual control the coming few years.
India recently received the last batch of 151 Mi-17V-5 Hip transport helicopters, Russian defense export agency Russian Helicopters reported on Tuesday 2 February. The helicpoters were produced by JSC Kazan Helicopters. According to the same report, India is planning to order another 48 choppers for use with the Indian Air Force.
“India is one of the key markets for Russian helicopter building industry and the largest operator of Russian-made helicopters in the South-East Asia. Today, this country uses more than 400 helicopters, which have proved themselves well,” said Russian Helicopter CEO Alexander Mikheev. The company also claims the Mi-17V-5 helicopters supplied to India are some of the best technically equipped helicopters of the Mi-8/17 series, using the best solutions of previous generations.
Every Indian Mi-17V-5 helicopter is fitted with a KNEI-8 avionics suite. The suite has replaced multiple systems indicators with four large multi-functional that are easy to read and reduce the pilot’s workload. This avionics suite also helps to cut down pre-flight inspection time by displaying all systems data and alerting the crew when necessary. Also, the helicopters supplied to India are equipped with the latest and more powerful engines, which enhance payload carriage capability at higher altitudes – useful in the mountainous Indian landscape.
As recently announced, Russia and India have started to implement a project aimed at manufacturing no less than 200 light multirole Ka-226T helicopters, as reported here at Airheadsfly.com already last year. According to documents signed by the governments of the two countries, no less than 200 of the Ka-226T helicopters and their modifications will be manufactured in India. The agreement also includes maintenance, operation, repairs of helicopters and provision of technical support.
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.