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 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.
This year, the Russian military is scheduled to receive 16 additional Kamov Ka-52 Alligators attack helicopters, Russian deputy defense minister Yury Borisov said on Monday 23 March when visiting the Kamov factory.
The first of the newly produced helicopters should be delivered in April, with more following throughout the rest of the year. The Ka-52 entered service with the Russian military in 2011, well over a decade since its first flight in June 1997. Serial production began in 2008.
It’s two VK-2500 turboshaft engines allow the helicopter to operate at altitudes above 5,000 meters. It has a static ceiling of 4,000m, and is able to take off and land in hot climates and in high mountainous terrain. The helo is in use in Russia for close air support, but also sees use in the navalized Ka-52K variant.
The 16 new helicopters are part of a much larger order from Moscow. A contract for the delivery of a total of 146 KA-52s is to be completed in 2020. It is part a Russian rearmament program with an estimated worth of about 325 billion USD.
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.