Russia’s Mi-28NM “Breakthrough” Gunship Can Launch Drones

  • Our Bureau
  • 03:12 PM, May 18, 2021
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Russia’s Mi-28NM “Breakthrough” Gunship Can Launch Drones
Mi-28NM combat helicopter (via Russian state media)

Russia’s Mil Mi-28NM attack helicopter armed with next-generation missiles and rockets is capable launching UAVs including Kamikaze drones.

“The latest Mi-28NM attack helicopter is capable of interacting with kamikaze drones. The inclusion of kamikaze drones in the gunship’s airborne armament is one of the areas of interaction between Mi-28NMs and UAVs,” Vitaly Shcherbina, Chief Designer of the Combat Helicopters Program at the Mil and Kamov National Helicopter Center, was quoted as saying by government-owned TASS today.

An Mi-28NM attack helicopter can launch one or several kamikaze drones from its board when it enters the designated area, the chief designer explained.

"Upon detecting enemy targets, the helicopter’s crew issues target acquisition and exercises control of their destruction," Shcherbina specified.

A Mi-28NM gunship can also interact with other types of drones.

"The technical assignment for the R&D work on creating the Mi-28NM combat helicopter stipulates automated interaction with Korsar and Forpost-R medium-range drones both through an army aviation automated command post and directly between the helicopter and the drone," he explained.

"Automated interaction between Mi-28NM helicopters and various reconnaissance drones will help monitor the designated area without entering the enemy’s effective air defenses, provide accurate target acquisition and exercise control of the combat employment of next-generation light multi-purpose missiles in real time, and also re-transmit telephone and telecode messages between interacting helicopters, aircraft, aircraft platforms and ground-based command posts in the designated area of combat operations," the chief designer said.

“Breakthrough” Combat Helicopter

Shcherbina claims that this variant of the gunship features breakthrough technology. Its design considerably differs from the helicopter’s baseline version.

Talking about new weapons armed on the helicopter, he says, "In the course of joint work, we focused on expanding the range of air-launched weapons of the helicopter’s airborne armament as the basic area of improving Mi-28N baseline helicopters. For the purpose of solving this task, the airborne armament of the Mi-28NM embraced next-generation round-the-clock missiles, including multirole munitions allowing the gunship to strike targets without entering the area of the enemy’s effective air defenses, and also next-generation rockets of a broad range of their employment and enhanced capacity, as well as bombing weapons of various calibre.”

Russia’s Mi-28NM “Breakthrough” Gunship Can Launch Drones
Upgraded Mi-28N helicopter (image: Rostec)

The Mi-28NM’s integration into the single information and reconnaissance digital space on the battlefield boosts the gunship’s combat efficiency, the chief designer stressed. "In this case, the helicopters operate as part of a reconnaissance and strike system and are capable of automatically getting updated information on the enemy and the combat environment in the designated area through information networks from reconnaissance systems, including unmanned aerial vehicles," Shcherbina said.

"We can say that the Mi-28NM is quite a different helicopter both by the ideology of its employment and the technologies integrated into its design, and it can be rightly called a next-generation or breakthrough helicopter compared to the baseline version. The Mi-28NM’s onboard armament allows it to detect and destroy enemy targets round the clock and in any weather conditions while operating outside of the enemy’s effective air defenses,” he explained.

The gunship’s advanced defensive aids suite allows it to successfully repel attacks by a potential enemy’s ground and airborne air defense systems while the onboard communications system features network-centric capabilities, Shcherbina said.

"The onboard communications and telecoms system offers a possibility for the helicopters to interact in a group, operate in air and ground communications networks, implementing the network-centric methods of weapons’ control on the battlefield, i.e. to get information on the enemy and friendly forces in a secure jam-resistant mode timely and without delays," the chief designer added.

The upgraded helicopter features a new fuselage design, modernized engines and an auxiliary powerplant, new onboard electronic warfare equipment and advanced weapons. The layout of the chopper’s fuselage nose section has been altered to mount a new target sight system and now integrates a drone interface module.

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