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.
READ 15 MAY UPDATE HERE! Russia and India are in the final stages of negotiations about a massive helicopter production deal, sources in Moscow and New Delhi say. The plan: for India to produce 400 Kamov Ka-226T utility helicopters a year, to be used by its armed forces and after that to export to other countries.
“I am pleased that Russia has offered to fully manufacture in India one of its most advanced helicopters, for both military and civilian use,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed in an official statement.
Some sources say the likely deal will also include local Indian production of the Mil Mi-17 medium-transport and assault helicopter, which is one of the world’s most popular rotary wings building on the equally popular Mi-8 (“Hip”) design. The Indian Air Force already has at least 222 Mi-8s and Mi-17s on strength. The Ka-226T might replace the aging 74 remaining HAL Chetaks (Alouette IIIs) and 34 HAL Cheetahs (Alouette II) within the Air Force, plus 55 Chetaks in the Indian Navy and the 48 Cheetahs plus 60 Cheetaks of the Indian Army.
A helicopter deal might level the way for other stuff, like India to maybe buying an export version of the stealthy Sukhoi PAK FA (T-50) that Russia is currently developing.
Meanwhile Russian Helicopters is continuing its supply of attack helicopters to the domestic military needs. Latest: a batch of likely 2 to 4 Mil Mi-28N Night Hunter attack helicopters delivered to the Russian Army Aviation on 19 December, the same day as they rolled off the assembly line of the Frunze Embankment National Center.
The Iraqi Army Aviation will start operating its third shipment of Mil Mi-35M Hind helicopters soon, as the two to four helicopters were delivered at the end of September 2014.
With a total number of now 10 to 12 of the newest Hind attack helicopters the Iraqi Army is quickly gaining proper airborne fire-power, much needed while the country is very much in the hands of rebel fighting forces that have named themselves the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL).
An estimated three to nine of the 36 ordered Mil Mi-28NE Night Hunters are officially now also ready to fight after having arrived in Iraq this summer.