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Russia to integrate unguided bombs on Mi-28N and Ka-52 helicopters.

| 2018

The Russian Defense Ministry reviewed the set of munitions for helicopter gunships. Mi-28N and Ka-52 will be armed with unguided high-explosive bombs (FAB). It has been thought for long they are incompatible with the helicopters which mainly fire guided and unguided missiles. Pilots will be trained to release bombs in Syzran. In some conditions helicopters will replace frontline aircraft to decrease operational costs, the Izvestia daily writes.

Russia to integrate unguided bombs on Mi 28N and Ka 52 helicopters 001 Two Kamov Ka-52 combat helicopters
(Credit: Ministry of Defense of Russia)

The Russian Defense Ministry said 22 helicopters will be upgraded to carry bombs in two years. The gunships will be delivered to Syzran affiliate of the Zhukovsky and Gagarin Air Force Academy to train bomb release. The decision to arm the helicopters with bombs was made after their combat engagement in Syria.

The upgraded helicopters will have an ejector rack which is usually installed on Su-30SM, Su-35S and MiG-29. The suspension carries and releases air bombs of various modifications, including FAB-500. The aiming system of the helicopters will be improved. The computer will take into account the speed, the distance to the ground and weather. The upgrade will allow engaging bombs with the precision of guided weapons.

Helicopter gunships can be used as light bombers and the operational costs will be cheaper than frontline aviation, expert Anton Lavrov said. "Bomb release from helicopters is specifically effective in local operations against terrorists, like in Syria. Helicopter gunships, like Mi-28N, have a modern navigational and aiming system to drop bombs. Onboard computer ensures approach to the release point by satellite coordinates. FAB can be released not only in hovering regime. Helicopters will accelerate and nose up to bomb like an aircraft in a flight. In future they will be able to release guided bombs," he said.

In the beginning of the Afghan war helicopters actively dropped air bombs to destroy fortified targets. Six Mi-8 with OFAB-250 high-explosive fragmentation bombs or four helicopters with two FAB-500 were necessary to destroy a fire stronghold in the mountains or a building. The reason for the low effectiveness was altitude restriction for the helicopters.

Bombs in Afghanistan usually had a delay detonator to provide safe distance from the strike point. All the measures considerably reduced the effectiveness of bomb strikes.

No special sights were used in Afghanistan. Helicopter pilots used OPB-1R upgraded aircraft bomb sight of World War Two. It was a periscopic sight tube mounted at the captain’s seat. Pilots complained it was inconvenient and denied precision aiming. It was possible to bomb only when a helicopter hovered horizontally. But it thus became an easy target for adversary air defense, the Izvestia said.

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