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Death by Stinger: How Russia’s Helicopters Are Getting Torched in Ukraine

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An Mi-35 Hind helicopter fires its 12.9mm gatling gun during a training sortie over southern Afghanistan Oct. 4, 2009. U.S. Airmen with the 438th Air Expeditionary Training Group use the helicopter to train Afghan aviators while deployed to Kandahar Air Field. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Angelita Lawrence/Released)

Death by Stinger? The Russian Mil Mi-24 Hind helicopter gunship and troop transport helicopter are showing vulnerabilities against the Ukrainian military. Ukrainian MANPADs (man-portable air-defense systems) and surface-to-air missiles are making it difficult for the Russian helicopter to accomplish its deep strike and close air support missions for Russian ground forces. Despite being called the “flying tank” by the Russians, it may not have enough armor to protect against Ukrainian MANPADS and SAMs.

Watch How a Mi-24 Crashes and Burns

A notable video shows a MANPAD destroying a Mi-24 in a dramatic loss for the Russians and a morale boost for the Ukrainian military. On March 5, an Mi-24 was flying about 25 miles north of Kyiv when it was shot down by a Stinger MANPAD that resulted in a large fireball after crashing to the earth. Various Ukrainian military sources trumpeted the video. “This is how the Russian occupiers are dying,” the Ministry of Defense said in the text. “This time in a helicopter!”

Susceptible to Stingers in Soviet War in Afghanistan

Since its introduction in 1972 and deployment by the Soviet military in greater numbers in the late 1970s, the Mi-24 has served on dozens of battlefields and has been exported to numerous countries.

The Soviet War in Afghanistan showed that it had difficulty against the Stinger which the CIA began providing to the Mujahideen in 1986. The Stinger could lock onto the heat and exhaust from the helicopter’s engines. The MANPAD also could attack the Mi-24 from all angles.

In addition, the Ukrainians are using older Russian-built Soviet-era Strela or Iglas-S MANPADs to defend against Russian helicopters. These are also heat-seekers. The Mi-24 attempts to use flares to fool the guidance of the missiles, but this doesn’t always work. Meanwhile, titanium armor is supposed to protect the helicopter from ground-to-air missiles.

High-speed Aircraft

The Mi-24 looks formidable when loaded for combat. It has a five-blade main rotor and a three-blade tail rotor. Two powerful turboshaft engines can provide a maximum speed of 193-miles per hour. This is a higher speed than other attack or transport helicopters in its class. Two crewmen pilot the aircraft and operate its weapons systems. A flight engineer can also be on board. It can transport eight soldiers or four stretchers for medevac missions.

The Mi-24 Can Be Armed Substantially

The main armament is the YakB four-barreled, gatling-style 12.7mm machine gun that can fire 4,000 to 4,500 round per minute. The Mi-24 can carry up to 12 anti-tank missiles – the short-range Shturm or the longer-range Ataka. It can also be fitted with rocket and grenade-launchers. For targeting there is a forward-looking infrared pod, plus a laser rangefinder, and pilots can wear night-vision goggles.

The Russians likely have 700 Mi-24s and they have been upgraded with numerous variants over time with the Mi-24D being the most popular model. The Mi-24 can blast enemy positions and then land troops. At times, the Ukrainians have been able to fight it off before it drops off soldiers.

Protecting Convoys

The Russians have adjusted convoy tactics and have been flying gunships ahead of traveling vehicles. They are counting on helicopter radar and sensors to provide early warning against ambushes. But this low-flying mode is dangerous, and susceptible to MANPADs even though the Mi-24 is fast for a helicopter.

The Mi-24s may have to fly higher to remain out of range of the MANPADs and then swoop down quickly in numbers and depend on their electronic countermeasures to defend against Ukrainian missiles. The Russians have their work count out for them and the size of the supply of Stingers from the United States and NATO countries will decide the fate of the Mi-24 in Ukraine.

Now serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Alex

    March 7, 2022 at 4:52 pm

    There are always losses. Remind me how many US helicopters were shot down in different countries? Or recall a stealth plane shot down from an old Soviet weapon? All deliveries of weapons to Ukraine by the West will not be forgotten. Sponsors of Bandera Nazism will also be punished. But now the task of Russia is to destroy the Bandera Nazis.

  2. Jack Lyndhurst

    March 7, 2022 at 5:16 pm

    The later upgrades of the Hind family have switched to twin-barrelled cannons, in the case of the Mi-24P “Hind-F” it has a 30 mm GSh-30-2 and in the Mi-35, it has a swiveling chin turret with a GSh-23-2 23 mm autocannon, instead of the YakB 12.7 × 108 mm heavy machine gun.

  3. Ab

    March 7, 2022 at 6:09 pm

    Time to look at Rambo III, “somehow I dont trust that Russian anymore when he says that hé wont torture you if you surrender, Rambo”.

  4. Cauthon

    March 8, 2022 at 4:54 pm

    My reply to you is the same as what the free people of Ukraine have been saying – on sea and land – to the rest of the invading Russians. We won the cold war against the USSR and now we have to do it again as Putan tries to rebuild the dead empire. We have plenty of weapons for our friends to use.

  5. Alex

    March 9, 2022 at 11:33 am

    The USSR collapsed as a result of internal betrayal and the impossibility of transitioning the economy to a new track. If that means “winning the cold war,” then I feel sorry for that kind of education. Russia has almost recovered after the 90s, and in vain the United States decided to play “war” with Russia. In any case, even if the United States wins, only the Canada-Mexico Strait will remain in place of the United States.

  6. Timothy

    March 29, 2022 at 3:41 pm

    Spoken like a true and tragically naïve Russian. You guys are like the Black Knight in the Monte Python movie, you will never accede even as the muddy wagon wheel rolls over your limbless screaming head.

  7. Alex

    March 30, 2022 at 12:26 pm

    Timothy: There were a lot of wars, a lot of countries that wanted to make the Russians and the Eastern Slavs in general “acceptable”. Do you know where they are all? In Russian land. Sometimes their descendants want to repeat and follow their ancestors – to the Russian land. Come on and repeat.

  8. James

    March 31, 2022 at 5:12 pm

    Alex is a typical dirty alcoholic russian troll. I can just imagine his shitty existance. Wake up still drunk from crappy russian garbage vodka, goes to work at troll farm, surrounded by stinking dirty russians, uses trashy computer to copy and paste the same shit on all articles. Goes home to an ugly fat whore wife. Kids are stupid as fuck. Eats some garbage for dinner that people in the west wouldnt even feed a stray dog. Gets drunk on garbage homemade vodka. And … repeat till he dies from liver failure (hopefully soon).

  9. Alex

    April 1, 2022 at 10:49 am

    Bandera Nazi living in a pigsty believes that everyone lives the same way. He made several accounts for himself and shows how his ass is on fire, and I will show how his Bandera Nazis are on fire:

    The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, demanded that American leader Joseph Biden increase the supply of Javelin man-portable anti-tank missile systems to Ukraine. According to him, the Chechen fighters especially liked the ATGM.

    “We demand from Biden to increase the supply of Javelins! I am ready to personally reward the old man for actively contributing to the Russian special operation,” the head of the republic wrote in his Telegram channel.

    According to him, Chechen fighters are busy around the clock searching for and eliminating “Bandera and nationalist evil spirits” in Mariupol.

    “The guys especially fell in love with the Javelin anti-tank missile system, which has double the effectiveness. In order not to give up this valuable trophy, nationalists usually sacrifice two or three lives. And then our fighters destroy the entire Bandera crew from it,” Kadyrov said.

  10. from Russia with love

    April 4, 2022 at 5:54 am

    Alex:

    not only Javelin. the Stinger was also adopted by the militia of the DPR.
    Recently, the Ukrainian side tried to evacuate their militants from Mariupol using helicopters. 2 of them were shot down by the DPR militia with the help of American stingers.
    what an irony 🙂
    France is showing very strange activity regarding the evacuation from Marikpol. apparently, high-ranking French advisers were littered in Mariupoli and Paris really does not want them to fall into the hands of the Russians.

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