Mi flew: why "Night Superhunters" armed with kamikaze drones.
The air and space forces will receive helicopters with unmanned killers. The Ministry of Defense has approved a plan for purchasing avionics for the latest Mi-28NM Night Superokhotnik combat helicopters. 80 of the first production rotorcraft will receive a drone control system, thanks to which helicopter crews will be able to control both medium reconnaissance UAVs and disposable kamikaze drones at a distance of tens of kilometers. According to experts, such a bundle radically increases the combat capabilities of Russian military aviation, making rotorcraft less vulnerable.
As sources in the military department told Izvestia, the composition of the on-board equipment of the latest Mi-28NM helicopters has already been approved. The agency also pre-approved the procurement plan. So, for the serial "Night Superokhotniks" under construction, 80 sets of AS-UAV equipment for communication with UAVs have already been ordered (the purchase document is available to Izvestia). Each of these sets allows you to communicate with drones at a distance of up to 50 km and has a bandwidth of 5.4 Mbit/s, sufficient for real-time video transmission.
In total, the Ministry of Defense has signed contracts for the purchase of 96 such rotorcraft. It is planned to produce them and deliver them to the troops by the end of 2027.
Earlier, Vitaly Shcherbina, chief designer of the Combat Helicopters program at the Mil and Kamov National Center for Helicopter Engineering, noted that the technical specification for the development of the Mi-28NM provided for its interface with medium-range UAVs of the Korsar and Forpost-R types. In addition, he spoke about plans to include kamikaze drones controlled from a rotary-wing vehicle in the armament. At the end of last year, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the upgraded Mi-28NM was tested in combat operation on the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic.
"Controlling drones from a helicopter can radically improve the efficiency of army aviation" military expert Vladislav Shurygin told Izvestia. - Adding the ability to control drones will change the tactics of using helicopters on the battlefield. Previously, the rotorcraft needed to establish visual contact with the target, and therefore become visible itself. Now, the latest Mi-28NM can be turned into a weapon that will deliver targeted strikes from over the horizon, by external guidance from the ground or from drones, while remaining invulnerable to return fire.
According to the chief designer, interaction with drones will allow the helicopter to monitor a given area without entering the air defense zones, provide target designation for new long-range missiles and monitor the effectiveness of their use in real time.
Several models of disposable kamikaze drones are currently being developed in Russia. Some of them have already been tested in real combat conditions in Syria. Earlier, video footage of the destruction of a moving car with militants by such a Lancet UAV, as well as the destruction of a ground firing point, was already shown. This ammunition has the ability to be guided both through its own optics and with the help of another drone, so it can also be adapted to control from a helicopter.
Another device that the Mi-28NM will be able to communicate with is the half-ton Forpost-R. This is a fully localized and improved version of the licensed Israeli medium-range reconnaissance drone Searcher Mk II. After "Russification", its configuration was seriously changed. The basic version of the "Forpost" did not have the equipment necessary for interaction with aviation. The new UAV, unlike the source code, will also have the ability to use weapons.
Another candidate for interaction with the helicopter will be the domestic Korsar UAV. With a take-off weight of 200 kg, it is noticeably smaller in size than the "Forpost". But, in addition to reconnaissance tasks, this UAV is also capable of carrying light bombs and highlighting targets with a laser to hit them with artillery and aviation weapons.