Russian MI-28N heli is formidable, but its weapons lag – a US pilot

Before delving into the perceptions of an American helicopter pilot about the Russian MI-28N, it is imperative to comprehend the essence of this entity known as the Night Hunter.

Russia sends Mi-28NM with Ataka ATGM against Leopard and Abrams
Photo credit: Military Watch Magazine

The MI-28N Night Hunter, an advanced Russian combat helicopter, is intricately designed to execute combat operations at any hour, even under circumstances of restricted visibility and low flight altitude.

One cannot help but marvel at the intricacies of the MI-28N’s technical specifications. This formidable machine is powered by two VK-2500 turboshaft engines, each boasting a formidable 2,200 horsepower, which can be ramped up to 2,700 in circumstances of exigency. The heft of the helicopter is considerable, weighing in at a robust 8,000 kilograms, yet it demonstrates an impressive capacity for armament, being capable of bearing 2,300 kilograms of weapons. Furthermore, its fuel capacity is not to be overlooked, with a notable 1,500 kilograms of fuel that can be accommodated within its structure.

US sanctions move production of Russian attack helos to the Mideast - mil mi-28
Photo credit: The Modelling News

The MI-28N, a marvel of modern aviation, is capable of achieving a maximum speed of 300 km/h, while effortlessly sustaining a cruising speed of 265 km/h. The extent of its flight range is impressive, reaching a breadth of 450 km when not equipped with PTB [external fuel tanks]. However, when these additional fuel storage units are secured, the MI-28N can command an astounding range of 1087 km, thus expanding its tactical capabilities.

Equipped with a formidable array of weaponry, the MI-28N boasts a 1×30-mm 2A42 cannon, complete with a munitions payload of 250 shells. Furthermore, it possesses the capacity to accommodate both guided and unguided missiles, bombs, and additional armaments on its four suspension points. Of the guided missile systems available for mounting, the Sturm-B, Ataka-B, and Ataka-VN anti-tank systems merit particular attention due to their precision and destructive capabilities.

Endowed with an advanced optoelectronic detection and guidance system, the helicopter boasts both a thermal imaging camera and a high-definition television camera. This state-of-the-art technology bestows upon the crew the capability to discern targets at a distance as far-reaching as 10 kilometers, and, with precision, guide weaponry towards them.

The MI-28H is equipped with an intricate protection system, encompassing both a hazard warning system and an active protection system. The hazard warning system serves a crucial role in alerting the crew to potential threats, as it illuminates the radar screen with the presence of hazardous objects, and signals detection by air defense systems. Conversely, the active protection system springs into action when the helicopter is launched, employing the use of decoys as a strategic countermeasure.

Russian MI-28N heli is formidable, but its weapons lag - a US pilot
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Incorporating both manual and automated guidance, the weapon control system equips the crew with the capacity to direct the weapon accurately toward the target. Moreover, the helicopter is outfitted with a target illumination system, a feature that enhances the crew’s ability to operate a precision weapon with heightened efficacy.

Remarkably, the MI-28H demonstrates the capacity to affix Sturm and Ataka anti-tank missile systems onto external hangers. The Sturm system, inclusive of the 9K121В Vihr-B missiles, employs a laser guidance mechanism, thus enabling it to strike armored targets at a maximum range of 8 kilometers. In contrast, the Ataka missile system, specifically engineered to obliterate ground-based armored vehicles and similar structures, boasts of a firing range that extends to 6 kilometers.

Russian MI-28N heli is formidable, but its weapons lag - a US pilot
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Notwithstanding certain drawbacks, such as an elevated cost, substantial noise levels, and susceptibility at lofty altitudes, the MI-28N holds its place as one of the most sophisticated and potent combat helicopters globally. This formidable aircraft displays a remarkable capacity to undertake a diverse array of operations within the theater of war.

Russia sends Mi-28NM with Ataka ATGM against Leopard and Abrams
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Helicopter pilot and military analyst, Lauren McKenzie, offers an authoritative account: “The Night Hunter, a formidable helicopter, presents itself as a considerable adversary to any military force. Its notable agility and robust survivability render it a potent contender on the battlefield. Nevertheless, it bears acknowledging that the Russian weapons systems incorporated within may falter in comparison to our own in terms of accuracy and reliability. Furthermore, certain elements of the avionics may leave room for improvement.”

Undeniably, the Night Hunter stands as a formidable helicopter, proficiently excelling in its designated roles in the complex theatre of war.


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