Russian Ka-52 was shot down by a Swedish-made RBS-70 MANPADS

August 17th dawned with a significant triumph for the Ukrainian air defense, as they successfully intercepted two of Russia’s state-of-the-art Ka-52 Alligator helicopters. Impressively, one was taken down using a Swedish RBS-70 MANPADS – a notable first in the visually recorded use of this system. 

As the Ukrainian air defenses inch closer to the frontlines, the effectiveness of the Ka-52 Alligators has been thrust into the spotlight. Ukrainian forces reported the downing of two Russian Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopters on the aforementioned morning, one near Robytyne in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast region and the other in the vicinity of Bakhmut, located in the Donetsk Oblast [Oblast is Region].

A remarkable incident occurred in Robytyne, Zaporizhzhia Oblast, that captivated global attention. The incident involved the 47th Mechanized Brigade, which managed to bring down an airborne enemy during the June counteroffensive, a feat that marked a significant victory over the Russians. 

The Ka-52s, formidable adversaries in the sky, were responsible for causing considerable destruction during the initial stages of the attack. The unit faced a particularly grueling challenge as they made their advance towards the south of Mala Tokmachka under the cover of night.

The 47th Mechanized Brigade has marked a triumphant moment with the successful interception of a Russian Ka-52 helicopter. This significant achievement was proudly announced on their Telegram account, where they credited the use of MANPADS for bringing down the Ka-52 in the vicinity of Robotyne.

In a revealing turn of events, ‘The Kyiv Post,’ a reputable Ukrainian news outlet, managed to secure a video. This footage purportedly provides a glimpse into the chaotic aftermath of the Robotyne confrontation.

The viral video circulating on Platform X, formerly known as Twitter, offers a riveting view of an unfolding drama. In the video, two Russian helicopters are observed advancing toward the flaming wreckage of the ill-fated Alligator. As the spectacle continues, one helicopter hovers vigilantly nearby while the other descends carefully to earth, discharging its cargo of troops amidst the chaos.

What truly captures the attention in this unfolding narrative of the firefight, now making waves in the media, is the deployment of the Swedish RBS-70 MANPADS to claim victory. This use of the RBS-70 MANPADS, a fact corroborated by video evidence, marks the first tangible proof of Ukraine employing this system in a combat scenario.

Argentina buys RBS 70 ground air defense with 5 sec reloading time
Photo credit: Pan.bg

In a remarkable disclosure, the 47th Mechanized Brigade subtly indicated that it deployed an RBS-70 system in July to bring down a Russian Su-25 Frogfoot, a jet specifically designed for close-air support. Before this event, in May, the Ukrainian Armed Forces had made a significant assertion that they had successfully utilized the same system to intercept and destroy “Russian cruise missiles and Iranian-made kamikaze drones”. However, it is of note that these bold claims were presented without any accompanying video evidence or additional visual confirmation.

A vivid video that quickly spread across the internet sparked initial conjecture and evaluations by online users, suggesting the possibility of a Javelin being responsible for downing the Ka-52. Nonetheless, military analysts put forth a different perspective, indicating it was the RBS-70 that prominently appeared at the onset of the footage. This assertion was made despite the striking resemblance between the “cold start” operation, seen in the video, and the mechanism of the Javelin, known to have previously taken down a Ka-52.

US 'captured' a Russian Ka-52 helicopter and will examine it
Photo credit: Twitter

Industry experts have pointed out that the MANPADS, identified in the circulating social media visuals, bears a striking resemblance to the RBS-70. They argue that the Bolide, a modified projectile from SAAB’s RBS 70 series, shares an identical shape and distinctive middle fins with the weaponry in question. At the time of crafting this report, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, along with the military, had yet to officially affirm or address these assertions.

In an insightful observation, specialists highlighted the fact that the system’s success in neutralizing threats can be largely attributed to its advanced missile. This missile, controlled by an operator using a laser beam, effectively circumvents the countermeasures of the Ka-52’s Vitebsk EW system, rendering it ineffectual.

One Ka-52 helicopter deflected 18 MANPADS by jamming all warheads
Photo credit: Dzen.ru

In April 2023, Ukraine welcomed the arrival of the RBS-70 man-portable air-defense systems [MANPADS], as reported by BulgarianMilitary.com. This acquisition was the result of Sweden’s initial pledge, made in the preceding August. The RBS-70 MANPADS is a significant addition to Ukraine’s defense arsenal, strengthening its air defense capabilities.

During the period of its inception, the defense system was recognized for its exceptional ability to counter Russia’s kamikaze drones. However, the noteworthy accomplishment of intercepting a Ka-52, widely regarded as the jewel in Moscow’s arsenal, has been met with widespread acclaim from experts in the field.

About RBS-70 MANPADS

RBS-70 MANPADS is a man-portable air defense system that is designed to provide short-range air defense against low-flying aerial targets. It is a Swedish-made system that has been in service since the 1970s and has been exported to many countries around the world.

Argentina buys RBS 70 ground air defense with 5 sec reloading time
Photo credit: SAAB

The RBS-70 MANPADS system works by using an infrared seeker to detect the heat signature of an incoming target. Once a target is detected, the system launches a missile that is guided by the seeker to intercept and destroy the target. The missile is equipped with a high-explosive warhead that is designed to destroy the target upon impact.

The targets of RBS-70 MANPADS are primarily low-flying aerial targets such as helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles [UAVs]. The system is not designed to engage high-altitude targets such as ballistic missiles or satellites.

The RBS-70 MANPADS system has several technical characteristics that make it an effective short-range air defense system. These include a range of up to 8 km, a maximum altitude of 5 km, and a maximum speed of Mach 1.6. The system is also highly mobile and can be easily transported and set up by a small team of operators.

2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

Argentina buys RBS 70 ground air defense with 5 sec reloading time
Photo credit: SAAB

On 21 February 2022, Russia claimed that Ukrainian shelling had destroyed an FSB border facility. Russia claimed that it had killed 5 Ukrainian soldiers. They tried to cross into Russian territory. Ukraine denied being involved in both incidents and called them a false flag.

On the same day, the Russian government formally recognized the self-proclaimed DPR and LPR. According to Putin not only in their de-facto controlled areas, but the Ukrainian Oblasts as a whole. Putin ordered Russian troops, including tanks, to enter the regions.

On 24 February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine by Russian Armed Forces previously concentrated along the border. The invasion followed by targeted airstrikes of military buildings in the country, as well as tanks entering via the Belarus border.

Russia has so far not recognized the invasion of Ukraine as a “war”, although that is exactly what it is, claiming that it is a “special military operation”. According to the UN, a “special military operation” can only take place after a UN resolution. There is no such resolution. So this is an invasion and war against Ukraine.

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