Russia’s “Night Super Hunters” helicopters will become fighters and air killers

MOSCOW, (BM)“Night Superhunters” will become air killers. The latest Russian Mi-28NM attack helicopter will turn into a fighter capable of handling enemy aircraft, drones and cruise missiles. Powerful R-74M ammunition will be installed on board the rotorcraft to destroy air targets. They are able to bring down even fifth-generation aircraft. At the same time, the helicopter itself will remain low-impact, operating at low altitude.

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Missile against fifth generation fighters

As sources in the Ministry of Defense told Izvestia, a fundamental decision was made to equip the Mi-28NM with R-74M air-to-air missiles. They will radically increase the capabilities of the helicopter. As the sources in the military-industrial complex explained to the newspaper, work on the project has already begun, but a number of technical problems have yet to be solved.

Installing the most modern ammunition on the rotorcraft will give it the opportunity to effectively deal with airplanes, helicopters, cruise missiles and even drones. R-74M, also known as RVV-MD, belongs to the class of short-range missiles. It can hit targets at a distance of 40 km. Ammunition easily destroys targets day and night in any weather.

R-74M was originally developed taking into account the possibility of defeating fifth-generation fighters F-35 and F-22. Neither an attempt to escape the afterburner nor intensive maneuvering will save the rocket. The homing head is not afraid of electronic interference and thermal traps imitating the enemy.

With such powerful ammunition, the Mi-28NM will actually become a “helicopter killer,” said military expert Vladislav Shurygin.

  • Now foreign attack helicopters are equipped with conventional infantry portable anti-aircraft systems. In the West it is “Stinger”, here we have “Needle” or “Willow,” the specialist noted. “But MANPADS cannot be compared with a full-fledged aviation missile.” The R-74M has a much higher range, sensitivity and resistance to interference. It has more explosives, which leaves no chance for any aerial target. Therefore, the Mi-28NM will easily knock down the American AH-64 Apach, which it will not even see.

Helicopter against aircraft

For a modern fighter, a helicopter is a difficult target. Acting at extremely low altitudes and in the folds of the terrain, it is poorly visible for the aircraft radar. Buildings and industrial facilities give a lot of false reflections. The surface of the earth disguises the thermal footprint and makes it difficult for aviation munitions to capture a rotorcraft with an infrared homing head.

After the appearance of such missiles in helicopters, pilots of a potential enemy will feel less secure, said Honored Test Pilot, Hero of Russia, Colonel Igor Malikov.

A helicopter may be invisible to radars because of the terrain,” he told Izvestia. “You pass over it without noticing, and then a rocket flies at you from behind.” And you have to eject. A friend of mine recalled how he tested such ammunition on a fighter: after launch, the rocket went down. The pilot was already upset, thinking that this was a refusal, when suddenly she hit from below the training target – MiG-21 – and literally tore it in half.

Armed with a pair of R-74M helicopter will be able to operate on external target designation from ambushes. At the same time, the capabilities of the latest ammunition allow you to fire without establishing visual contact with the aircraft, as they say, “from around the corner.” The homing head is capable of capturing the target after launch. In such a scenario, even the latest invisible fighters may become vulnerable to rotorcraft.

As Izvestiya previously reported, target designation and indication systems built in flight helmets using augmented reality technology have been developed for the Mi-28NM crew. With the help of laser beams, all the information that is necessary for the pilot at the moment is projected onto a plastic protective visor: map, intelligence, information about the state of the machine. It also displays messages about the position of an air target received from an air defense command post or AWACS aircraft.

Helicopter pilots can independently detect the enemy with the help of an advanced optoelectronic system. According to the developer, its effective range has been doubled. It is also planned the possibility of interaction between the missile and the airborne radar.

“Super hunter”

Mi-28NM is a deep modernization of the “Night Hunter” Mi-28N. One of the main innovations that appeared in the car is the sub-bus radar station. Its antenna-receiving-transmitting part is located above the rotor and is closed by a special fairing in the form of a ball. This allows you to get an image of the area, hiding in the bumps of the terrain and remaining invisible to enemy radars.

The new model has more powerful engines and a control system. In addition, the helicopter provides crew safety at a very high level, which there are simply no analogues in the world. The cabin and vital components are covered with armor, capable of withstanding large-caliber bullets. A fire warning system can detect a fired missile, analyze its trajectory and give recommendations to the pilot – to dodge or shoot heat traps.

Earlier, Izvestia reported that in 2019 the Mi-28NM was deployed in combat conditions in Syria – in mountainous and desert areas. After which it was recognized that the helicopter passed the exam for professional suitability and can enter the army. Six helicopters will be built this year, another 12 will be commissioned in 2021. The first “Night Hunters” will go to the 344th Center for Combat Training and Retraining of Flight Personnel. There, the pilots who will fly the Mi-28NM in their units will begin to master the novelty. Then, military regiments will be re-equipped with this technique.

Until 2028, it is planned to produce and send 100 “Night Super Hunters” to the army. This was in May last year, President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting on military development and execution of the state defense order.

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Editorial team
Source: Izvestia /
Anton Lavrov, Roman Kretzul

The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.