New Russia Mi-28UB Helicopter to Be Battle-Tested in Syria

(SCF) – Russia is to test its Mi-28UB (Night Hunter) training attack capable helicopter in Syria, said Andrei Boginsky, CEO of the Helicopters of Russia company. Capable of large-scale airstrikes, the Mi-28N version of the gunship provided close air support for the Syrian military. Last June, a Mi-28N was shelled by militants with heavy machine gun in Palmyra area but suffered no damage and continued its flight. The Aerospace Forces are to receive eight new Mi-28UB helicopters – the first batch – till the end of this year. At present, the choppers are undergoing acceptance tests.

The main difference with the Mi-28UB training version, compared to the basic model of the Mi-28N Night Hunter, is a fully-fledged dual control system, which facilitates pilot training. A trainee pilot occupies the command cockpit, while an instructor sits in the front gunner’s cockpit. The dual hydro-mechanical flight control system allows the crew to operate the helicopter from the pilot’s cockpit as well as from the instructor’s cockpit.

The upgrade includes energy-attenuating seats, which can absorb shock energy during an emergency landing, as well as new avionics and communication systems. The integrated avionics suite allows for nap-of-the-earth flights on autopilot mode during the night and in adverse climates. The chopper has stand-alone solo stationing capability.

The aircraft possesses all the combat capabilities of the Mi-28N version battle-tested in Syria. Besides the training mission, the Mi-28UB can also serve as an attack helicopter, performing search-and-destroy missions against land-based targets, small naval vessels and low-speed aerial targets during the day or night and in all weather conditions. The Mi-28UB incorporates a wide range of combat equipment and advanced avionics to deliver enhanced defence capabilities.

The Mi-28UB is equipped with the 30mm 2A42 cannon installed on the movable weapon mount. The gun has a dual-feed, which allows for a cyclic rate of fire between 200 rounds per minute to 550 rounds per minute with an effective range varying from 1,500 meters for ground vehicles to 2,500 meters for air targets.

The chopper can carry a slew (over 50) of underwing armaments included guided and unguided missiles and rockets, including up to 16 Ataka-B air-to-ground missiles and eight short-range Igla man-portable surface-to-air missile systems. It is also armed with two Strelets air-to-air missiles, 80mm and 130mm S-13 rocket pods, B-8 V20A rocket pods with S-8 and B-13 L’1 weapons.

The Mi-28UB helicopter can fly at a maximum speed of 300km/h, with a cruise speed of 270km/h. It has a hover ceiling limit of 3,600m and can operate at altitudes up to 5,600m. The range is 435 km. The normal and maximum takeoff weights are 10,900 kg and 12,100 kg respectively.

The fuselage is slender and tapers to the tail boom and nose. It features tandem, stepped-up cockpits and belly-mounted cannon. Composite materials are used for the pod and boom design with a five-bladed main rotor mounted over the midsection. The cockpit and vital elements of the Mi-28UB are armoured. There are two wings hinged to the rear of fuselage midsection, enabling the aircraft to carry the weapons suite.

The cockpit is reinforced with armor and shock absorbers to protect both crewmembers and is equipped with advanced sensors for day, night and inclement weather conditions. The windshield, which withstands impact by 7.62 and 12.7mm bullets and 20mm shell fragments.

The aircraft is equipped with an advanced set of integrated avionics suites for automatic detection and tracking of targets during combat missions. The Okhotnik automatic thermal television system is installed to perform intellectual processing of video images and a high-speed digital interface is used to transmit video signals.

The pilot uses a helmet-mounted target designator, which allocates the target to the navigator’s surveillance and fire control system. An optical-electronic system is used to process the information collected. It is also used for observation, navigation and fire control tasks.

The gunship incorporates an airborne radar system (KRET) and a receiving-transmitting antenna module to detect dangerous objects and meteorological formations. The radar enables the helicopter to remain invisible to the enemy.

Image Source: Vitaly V. Kuzmin, Creative Commons

The Mi-28UB is powered by two VK-2500 turbo-shaft engines integrating a new full authority digital control system (FADEC). The engines are mounted alongside the top of the fuselage with downturned exhausts. Each engine develops a maximum power output of 2,700hp. The maximum takeoff and cruising outputs of the engine are 2,200hp and 1,500hp respectively.

The Mi-28 UB version is fitted with non-retractable tricycle tail-wheel type landing gear. The shock-absorbing landing gear protects the crew during low-altitude vertical falls.

In Syria, the helicopter will combine the training flights with the peacekeeping missions in the de-escalation zones.

This report prepared by ANDREI AKULOV for Strategic Culture Foundation.