Russian helicopter "night hunter" (Air Forces Monthly, UK)

The Russian helicopter Mi-28H “Night Hunter”, designed to perform percussion tasks at any time of day, is positioned by its creators as having much broader combat capabilities compared to its predecessors: the Mi-24 combat helicopter developed by 1960. and immediate ancestor - a representative of 1980's. Mi-28A helicopter. The new combat platform of the Russian Air Force designed to ensure survival on the battlefield, has more than enough firepower and high-precision sighting system, suitable for use in all weather conditions.

In April, 2009, after almost 30 years of development and testing, the first combat unit of the Russian Air Force, the 487 helicopter regiment from Budennovsk, located near troubled areas in the North Caucasus, received the first batch of four Mi-28Н helicopters. 15 months before that, 23 January 2008, the first Mi-28Н were handed over to the Ministry of Defense during an official ceremony at a manufacturing plant in Rostov-on-Don. These two helicopters were intended for trial operation and evaluation in the 344-th Center for combat use and training of personnel in Torzhok. By the beginning of May 2009, the “Rostvertol” had released at least 17 Mi-28H, and representatives of the Russian aviation industry had publicly stated that by the 2009-2011. Mi-28N will enter service with two helicopter regiments, in which one squadron of 18 helicopters will be fully operational. By 2015, it is planned to adopt at least 67 Mi-28Н, the annual rate of purchases will be 10 helicopters. In the long run, the number of "Night Hunters" can reach 300, but this, of course, will depend on the availability of funds after 2012. Not the first year following history Mi-28H may be surprised at the current success of the Night Hunter after such a complicated past.


Russian helicopter "night hunter" (Air Forces Monthly, UK)


"Night Hunter" - 30 years in development

The competition between KB Mil and Kamov in the development of a new generation of combat helicopters to replace the omnipresent Mi-24 began in the late 1970-s. It was assumed that one of the two competing projects will be the Soviet response to the American McDonnel Douglas AN-64A Apache. Both new projects, known as the Mi-28A and Ka-50, performed their first flight in 1982, and passed the long and severe test phase in 1985-1986. In the end, the single-seat helicopter of the co-axial scheme Ka-50 was named the winner and in December 1987 was recommended by the Soviet government for serial production.

Although KB Mille lost the first round of the competition, it continued to work on the project, albeit at a much slower pace. At the beginning of the 1990's KB independently began to develop a draft of a more perfect round-the-clock version of the Mi-28А. As it turned out, the decision to continue the work was very prudent, because the purchases of the daily single Ka-50 stopped. At the beginning of the 2000's The Russian Ministry of Defense has issued requirements for a new generation of round-the-clock helicopters to equip army aviation, which became part of the 1 January 2003. This time, the new-generation attack helicopter was considered as an answer to the Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter.

In this case, there were no clashes between two Russian helicopter KBs. Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force, Colonel-General V. Mikhailov, in August 2003 told the media that Mi-28Н and Ka-52 were chosen for combat units, Mi-28Н will gradually replace the battered Mi-24 fleet, and Ka-52 will be produced in limited quantities for use by special forces.

Development stage

“Night Hunter” is primarily designed for the destruction of enemy armored vehicles and the destruction of well-protected and fortified targets, as well as the implementation of mining from the air, the suppression of area targets, the destruction of small sea and river vessels and all types of low-altitude aircraft.

Its layout follows the classic standard of the attack helicopter - a crew of two people is placed in tandem cabs. The navigator-operator is in the front cockpit, and the pilot / commander is in the elevated rear. Unlike the Mi-24, on the Mi-28 only the pilot can control the helicopter, and there are no free volumes in the helicopter for the transport of passengers - this is possible only in emergency cases. The project provides free space in the equipment compartment, which can fit two or three people from downed helicopters. The helicopter is equipped with a five-blade main rotor and a low-noise X-shaped guide screw. In the early samples of the helicopter used three-blade guide screw.

The first prototype of the Mi-28H, OP-1, the on-board number "014", was built at a pilot plant in the Moscow region city of Panki between 1994 and 1995. and for the first time took to the air in November 1996, with a number of samples of electronic equipment on it was absent. The second prototype of the Mi-28H (OP-2, on-board number “02”) made the first flight of 25 in March on 2004. The first of three pre-production Mi-28Н (serial number on 01-01, on-board number on “32”) ordered by the Russian Ministry of Defense , for the first time, the 25 of January 2005 took to the air, and the military budget for the following year provided for the purchase of at least seven "night hunters".

In March, the 2006 joint test team began to test the helicopter at the Torzhok airbase, and by April 2007 they had at least five Mi-28H units, including two prototypes, the OP-1 and the OP-2, as well as three pre-production specimen. In August, 2007 was joined by two more pre-production helicopters, and the following month, the Ministry of Defense finally approved the start of serial production of the Mi-28H at Rostvertol. In June, 2009 sources in the Mil Millenium Design Bureau announced that 12 “night hunters” had been delivered to the Russian Air Force and only 2009 produced 10 helicopters. The total number of helicopters to be released as part of the current defense order is 47 units to 2012.

In October 2008, the commander of the army aviation, Major General V. Ivanov, in the Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper reported that the first four Mi-28H adopted by the Russian Air Force are being tested in the Torzhok center in order to integrate the airborne defense complex (BKO ). It should be noted that all the “night hunters” supplied by the Russian Air Force are not equipped with an over-the-radar radar, they also lack a number of flight control systems, although it is reported that helicopters still have the option of installing the missing equipment in the future. It was hinted that the delivery of Mi-28H, fully equipped with a supra-sleeve radar, a full-fledged BKO, an assault targeting system (the so-called “second stage”), was planned as soon as these systems were ready, most likely between 2012 and 2015. There are also rumors of other planned upgrades, which will consist of installing a deeply modernized electronic flight control equipment and a new sighting system. It was also made clear that the Mi-28H will also be equipped with new weapons, including the Chrysanthemum anti-tank guided missile equipped with an active millimeter-wave gos capable of being used in all weather conditions. It is also believed that a dual control version is being developed for crew training.




Helicopter equipment

On the Mi-28Н a fully digital integrated avionics equipment complex BREO-28Н is installed, which has the possibility of round-the-clock and all-weather use. Instead of analog devices installed in the Mi-24 and Mi-28А cabs, the Mi-28H are equipped with dashboard devices compatible with night-vision goggles, which have six LCD multifunction monitors (three in each cabin), to which flight and navigation information is displayed , engine and airframe data, weapon status and target data.

The observation and aiming system OPS-28 “Thor” is primarily an all-weather aiming device in which three observation channels are integrated on a common gyro-stabilized platform located in the nose of the helicopter. Reportedly, the improvement of the “Torah” was faced with difficulties due to the technological complexity of the system and interruptions in funding. Installation in the round fairing can be rotated right and left 110 degrees, 13 degrees up and 40 degrees down. It has two flat transparent doors, which include an optical channel, a TV channel, an infrared channel and a laser range finder. The optical and infrared cameras have two fixed positions - with an increase in 3 × and 8 ×, and a TV camera provides 20-fold increase. Officially, no information about the Torah system was reported. Thanks to the GOES-520 survey system supplied by UOMZ, the helicopter can fly at low altitude at night. This system is used only for navigation purposes, includes an infrared camera and a low-altitude TV camera, and is located under the fairing of the ATGM guidance system.

The current plans envisage equipping the pilot and navigator with helicopters of target designation on helicopters in the final production configuration of the helicopter.

In the basic version, the BNT-25 radial nozzle developed by the Ryazan State Instrument-Making Plant could only view a sector in 90 degrees, the total area of ​​the surface being examined was 400 square meters. km, the radar cycle is 1.2 seconds. The image of the underlying surface can be used by the crew for prompt targeting of a specific OPS "Thor", thereby reducing the time to search and capture the target. In addition, the resulting radar image can be used as a means of distributing information about targets between a group of helicopters using a secure data exchange channel. The radar also has a selection mode for moving targets used to identify mobile objects.

Means of survival

Unlike the western doctrine of using helicopters in anti-tank combat, which mainly relies on ambush tactics, the Mi-28H, like its predecessor Mi-24, was designed to be used in the same way as the low-altitude attack aircraft Il-2. The Russian approach implies an exit into a combat zone at high speed at an ultra-low altitude, then a target pick-up in a climb, and its defeat from a hollow dive.

In order to achieve a high level of survival of the airframe and crew, the project team took into account the experience gained by the high price during the fighting of the Soviet army in Afghanistan in the 1980-s. Protection was mainly achieved due to solid booking of the most vulnerable parts of the helicopter, which theoretically allows the Mi-28 to withstand more severe combat damage compared to its predecessor.

The new crew rescue system includes energy absorbing “Pamir-K” armchairs developed by Zvezda Design Bureau, shock absorbing chassis and drop cabin doors, main rotor blades and wings. The seat / chassis combination allows the pilot and the navigator operator to survive forced landings at a speed of descent of 12 m / s; The impact load is reduced from 60-58 units, to “only” 12 units. The rescue system installed on the Night Hunter, in the event of a switch on at a height of 100, first shoots the rotor blades, wings and cabin doors, and then the crew members are parachuted. Non-throwable fuel tanks designed to avoid contact with the chassis or gun installation are included in the design to ensure a safe exit. If the rescue system is turned on at a height of less than 100 m, then the safety belts of the crew members automatically fasten and the helicopter makes a forced landing.

On the second production series of the Mi-28H, which should have been launched after 2010, it was planned to install an AED with active countering systems, including six devices for ejecting false heat targets HC-26 on 36 16-mm cartridges located on the wingtips.

Passive protection BKO Mi-28H includes the L-150 "Pastel" radiation warning warning station, the L-138 "Mak" missile warning system and the L-140 "Response" laser radiation warning system, as well as screen-exhaust devices on engines that can reduce the thermal radiation of a helicopter 2,2 times, in order to increase the capture distance for air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles from an infrared homing vessel.

Cannons, Nurs, Missiles and Bombs

The main armament of the Mi-28H is a supersonic semi-automatic ATGM 9М120В Ataka-V with a range of 5,8 km. Up to two 16 ATGM can be placed on the two underwing holders. Ataka-V is equipped with a tandem warhead, specially designed to overcome the active protection of modern main tanks. For the Mi-28H, it is possible to use the Ataka-D ATGM with the range increased to 10 km, which allows the crew to determine and destroy targets from a relatively long distance exceeding the range of the main air defense systems of the battlefield.

The 30-mm 2-42 gun mounted on the helicopter has an 900 gunfire per minute rate of fire, and was originally developed to equip the BMP-2. This system was chosen instead of specially designed tools for installation on both the Mi-28H and Ka-50 / 52 because of its high reliability. It is little susceptible to contamination by dust, dirt and sand, and also has excellent ballistic characteristics. Its main disadvantage is a higher mass compared to systems specially designed for use on helicopters. It is believed that its weight is equal to the mass of the double-barreled gun GSH-30-2, used on the Mi-24P. The nasal setting of the NNPU-28 can rotate 110 degrees left and right, 13 degrees up and 40 degrees down, and also has two-plane stabilization. Guidance and shooting from the gun is carried out using the OPS "Thor"; instead of the navigator-operator, the pilot can control the fire; for this, the position of the barrel is fixed along the axis of the helicopter’s direction of flight. The Mi-28H of the second generation can get the ability to hover the gun after the pilot's / navigator's gaze with the help of a helmet target designation system.

Unmanaged armament can be suspended on four pylons under the wings (480 kg can be hung on each), and includes 80-mm NURS С-8, launched from B8В-20 blocks on 20 missiles, 122-mm НУРС С-13, launched from BXNX blocks on five missiles or 13-mm NURS C-240 (two NURS are suspended on the outer pair of pylons). In addition, the cannon container UPK-24-23 with highly accurate 250-mm gun GSH-23 and 23 shells can be hung on the outer pylons. Another variant of the suspension can serve as a container of small-sized cargo KMGU-250 and air-to-air missile 2М9 Igla-V, designed to destroy helicopters and UAVs. Up to eight missiles can be hung on four Sagittarius double-rocket launchers.

Some Russian experts believe that in actual combat, due to limited combat load, Mi-28Н will be limited to only one function: either anti-tank operations or direct support of troops. To fight the Night Hunter tanks with 1200 l, fuel can be used with a full load of 16 ATURA Attack-V and 150-250 projectiles to the 2А42 cannon, for direct support of troops a typical load can consist in 20-rocket 80-mm missiles NURS, two-four ATGM and 150 guns.

Export expectations

The commencement of operation of the Mi-28H in the Russian Air Force from the beginning of 2008 had a positive effect on its export prospects. To date, a permit has been received for the export of the Night Hunter through Rosoboronexport. In 2008, the CEO of Rostvertol, B. Slyusar, in a conversation with the media, hinted that India, Algeria and China are considered the most likely launch customers, but in fact, as it turned out in the case of the upgraded version of the Mi-35M attack helicopter , Venezuela has proven to be the most likely export customer. During his visit to Rostvertol in June 2007, Venezuelan President William Chavez showed deep interest in purchasing an export version of the Mi-28НЭ for army aviation. Communicating with the press in January 2008 at the ceremony of the transfer of Mi-28Н, B. Slusar expressed confidence that the contract with Venezuela will be concluded by the middle of 2009. But there was no information about the conclusion of such a contract, although rumors are circulating that Venezuela is required 10-12 helicopters to replace aging OV-10 Bronco aircraft.
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