Russian attack helicopters in action
Multiple accounts — including from the media arm of the Russian Ministry of Defense itself — now document how Russian aviation is operating very close to the front lines, with attack helicopters presenting an especially serious threat to the Ukrainian counteroffensive in areas where armored advances are orchestrated. In particular, the Ka-52 Hokum has been repeatedly mentioned.
The Ka-52 has borne the brunt of rotary-wing close air support missions since the start of the war.
Assuming these helicopters are in heavy use?
Russian military bloggers are now more frequently citing the successes of these combat helicopters. There are unconfirmed reports of dozens of Ukrainian armored vehicles being destroyed in recent fighting in the Zaporizhzhia region and elsewhere in the east.
Seemingly, the lack of forward-deployed Ukrainian mobile SHORAD has left a ‘dead zone’ in which the Ka-52 can operate with a greater degree of safety than in the past.
At the same time, the lack of air defense systems means that Ukrainian armor becomes more vulnerable, pushing forward at times without the cover that it needs, leading to losses from attack helicopters, among others.
The Ka-52 has two main anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) options. The 9M120-1 Ataka-1 has a maximum range of 3.7 miles, while the 9A4172K Vikhr-1 can reach targets at 5-6 miles. Both missiles use laser beam-riding guidance, although 9M120 missiles with radio-command guidance can also be used. “The Ka-52 is the only Russian attack helicopter fielded in large numbers that is able to employ the 9A4172K Vikhr-1, which has a substantial range advantage over older Russian helicopter-launched ATGMs,” Plopsky observes.
In spite of my writing so often about conflict, I’m going to tell you all this military equipment just terrifies me!