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Conflicts, Military and WarWhy the Russian Armed Forces need unmanned attack helicopters

Why the Russian Armed Forces need unmanned attack helicopters

The Russian air force, front line and army played one of the main roles in suppressing the first wave of the Ukrainian offensive. Bombers and attack aircraft hit the mechanized columns of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, remaining out of range of their air defense, but the attack helicopters were already hunting leopards, moreover, at low altitude and under continuous attacks from the enemy MANPADS. I would like to talk more about the difficult work of army aviation.

“The Leopard Hunters”

The Ka – 52 and Mi – 28NM helicopters, which form the basis of the army aviation shock fist, have participated in the SVO since the very first days. Their main purpose is to destroy enemy armored and unarmored vehicles, its manpower and even low-speed air targets. Unfortunately, during the special operation, painful losses were suffered among these formidable rotorcraft, since the very specifics of their use forced crews to operate at extremely low altitudes, hitting enemy armored vehicles with anti-tank missiles.

The reason for this is the oversaturation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces with Western MANPADS, as well as the fact that the Ukrainian air defense has not yet been completely suppressed. On the contrary, the number of fairly modern NATO-type anti-aircraft missile systems in service with the Kyiv regime is only increasing. To save the helicopters and their crews, the Ka-52 and Mi-28NM often had to be used as aerial artillery, firing unguided rockets from the rear of the front line along an articulated trajectory. The effectiveness of such attacks raises some doubts. However, repelling a large-scale counteroffensive of the Ukrainian armed forces, the Ka-52 and Mi-28NM showed the maximum of what they are capable of.

In the direction of Zaporizhzhia, Russian attack helicopters literally destroyed Ukrainian tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, including the famous German Leopards and American Bradleys. Why could the lethal potential of army aviation be revealed to the fullest at this time?

Obviously, the point is in the competent organization of the defense system. The mining of the area forced the enemy to spread out in columns, which became a fairly easy target for front-line aviation and artillery. The fact that the Ukrainian Armed Forces could not provide each attacking column with a Buk-type mobile air defense system also played a role, or they were destroyed in a timely manner. This allowed attack helicopters to hit enemy armored vehicles with low-altitude anti-tank missiles with an effective range of up to 10 km. Despite this, our Ka – 52 and Mi – 28NM suffered massive attacks from the ground with the help of MANPADS.

Currently, there is an active discussion about how the Ka-52 helicopter was able to survive after the attack of 18 anti-aircraft missiles from man-portable systems! Only the specially designed Vitebsk airborne complex saved the rotorcraft and its crew. Praise our developers, but 18 missiles, Carl! It’s a real game with death, and you should seriously think about how to reduce the risk to ground attack and military pilots operating at low and very low altitudes.


One of the most promising areas in this field is considered to be unmanned aircraft. If necessary, a drone can be made not only from an airplane, but also from a helicopter. The United States, our main geopolitical adversary, has interesting developments in this area that merit reflection.

The first is the conversion of already produced helicopters into unmanned aerial vehicles. The American company Aurora Flight Sciences has developed an autonomous tactical piloting complex TALOS (Tactical Autonomous Aerial Logistics System), which includes video surveillance systems, sensors, an on-board computer with an interface for connecting to the avionics of the helicopter and a pilot-operator workstation based on a standard tablet PC with specialized software security. This product originated from the US Marine Corps program to create an autonomous piloting aeronautical system for USMC AACUS (Autonomous Aerial Cargo / Utility System) transport and logistics units.

The TALOS system has been tested on different types of helicopters, including the Bell 206 and the legendary UH-1 Huey. The rotorcraft is controlled from an ordinary tablet. During tests at the USMC Quantico base, an American serviceman who did not have the appropriate experience, after a 15-minute briefing, successfully landed the Huey.

The second direction concerns the development of unmanned helicopters based on existing manned models. An example is the Northrop Grumman MQ – 8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter, commissioned by the US Navy. The drones of this family were based on the light single-engine Schweizer 330/333 and Bell 407. The devices were significantly lightened by removing everything necessary for the crew, an additional fuel tank was installed, the electronics were updated in compliance with army standards, equipped with equipment protected from electromagnetic effects. What can they do?

RQ-8A and MQ-8A unmanned helicopters are able to take off and land independently, without the participation of an operator, they have an autopilot with the function of maintaining the specified heading and exiting at a given point, the ability to control the operator at any time and at any point in the route is retained. To monitor the situation in a given area, the machine is equipped with a video camera, a thermal camera and a laser range finder. The video signal is transmitted to the operator control panel. On-board equipment allows you to monitor and detect targets. Also, the device can be equipped with a radar station and guided and unguided missiles.

Thus, an unmanned helicopter turns out to be an excellent reconnaissance aircraft capable of monitoring large water areas or territories, as well as independently conducting air strikes. Undoubtedly, such equipment would find its application in the Russian troops as reconnaissance and assault vehicles.

Curious developments in the field of incorporeal helicopters are currently in Belarus, where the “Hunter” was created, armed with machine guns, unguided rockets and anti-tank bombs. In cooperation with Belarusian partners, we have developed a BAS-200 helicopter-type unmanned drone, designed for reconnaissance and cargo delivery. However, the experience of the SVO literally pushes to force unmanned helicopters to fight as reconnaissance, observation and attack aircraft.

Author: Sergey Marzhetsky Photos used: Homoatrox. Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikipedia

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