GarryB wrote:Well lets be fair, the officials probably only had information from friendly forces in the area and depending upon what they saw and reported you could get all sorts of different stories going around... I doubt the crew itself knew what actually happened...
There is speculation that this was a friendly fire incident...Wingman got in front of second Crocodile which was firing, FFAR might have hit the tail sending the wingman in uncontrolled spin.
If true, very very sad incident.
I've heard from person who is Mi-8 pilot that Russian doctrine suggests if flying in pairs that second helly gunner and pilot would be scanning for threats and targets and only the first one up front would engage it till it does a turn and switches with his colleague. Still doctrines are not always followed so You could be right. Isis and tow sounds like bullshit
IR missile that we have seen until now have always hit the center mass (heat source), there's the infamous Mil Mi 8 that takes a Strela and still flies. The impact detonation and some pictures in internet make it look like fragments have hit the choper, which could indicate a HE-Frag rocket.
Still very unusual path for a ManPads.
Recent incident btw PKK and a Turkish Cobra suggests that a MANPAD can hit the tail rotor section. In that particular case, the entire rear end was blown off. Personally, I don't know why that happens since the missile IR seeker should (theoretically) be homing in on the turbine exhaust typically located underneath and slightly behind the main rotor (unless there is some algorithm which offsets the missile impact point from the exhaust).
I have read many articles about this particular incident, and although it is by no means 100% certainty, as the conditions of the accident make it hard to determine 100% the facts. But in my opinion this is a friendly fire incident. Also, i do believe that is might very well have been a Russian Mi-35M being downed, and not a Syrian Mi-25. Unless somebody can post me a serial number or other clear evidence that i missed and proves me wrong. Now let me explain below why i have come to this sad conclusion.
Firstly : i believe it was a friendly fire accident because the impact looks much like that of a HE-FRAG rocket, and because unlike what the MoD has been telling, both helicopters in the video are clearly still preforming attacking runs rather than heading back to base for reloading. There is a smoke trail leading up to the tail section which very much resembles that of a rocket. You can see in the video the helicopters appear to have fixed landing gear, like that on the Russian Mi-35. The Mi-25 would under normal circumstances be flown with retracted gear as far as i know. There is no way of telling 100% sure in the blurred video, but this is my gut feeling.
Looking back at footage of the Ka-52 attack runs on Palmyra, we can clearly see that there are quite a bit of the fired rockets flying off target, some even appear to be flying off in the air. The smoke trails are all over the place. I remember thinking when i saw this footage for the first time that this would be very dangerous for friendly personnel on the ground nearby, or helicopters flying in front preparing to break off the attack. I think a "rogue rocket" from the second helicopter hit the tail rotor, which is probably the number one weak spot in a conventional helicopter layout, causing it to suffer catastrophic damage and send the gunship spiraling out of control.
Also, i understand why the MoD would claim this was caused by a ToW missile provided by the CIA, in fact it might very will have been. But i seriously doubt the ISIS operators in that area lack the skill to hit a gunship at attack speeds with it. I also dont buy into the "Starstreak smokeless missile theory". I think the MoD in this case does not want to admit that another one of its modern gunship (after the Mi-28N crash earlier) was lost due to possible operator error (and the use of ordinance which might have been overexposed to the elements or simply defunct). This might raise further questions about the level of training of the Russian helicopter crews. There has been no info on the crew of the second helicopter as far as i know. Perhaps the ultra high frequency of flying operations took its tole on the crew(s) causing them to make a slight judgement error and fly too close to each other?
There is a video out there of a Russian journalist visiting the crash site, where the entire wreck has been professionally disposed of using incendiary bombs. There is nothing left but ash, and crystallized remains. Al tough this is a standard practice, i doubt they would have gone trough such troubles for a Syrian Mi-25 located in friendly territory, even if it was a new or freshly refurbished example. They would chuck in a few explosives and remove any subsystems, or even recover some of the remains for investigation. But this wreck clearly received a next level of clean up treatment (at least in my opinion).
Finally we have seen that at least some (if not all) of the Mi-35M gunships in Syria are equipped with the latest electro-optical countermeasures for MANPADS and also possibly against TOW missiles. Obviously it is not designed to counter a dumb rocket flying in from that particular direction and striking the tail boom by chance.
Perhaps i have not seen enough info on the subject and i will still change my mind about it, but this is at the moment my conclusion to this tragedy. I do not wish to offend anybody and if i am wrong about these things than i apologize for my ignorance, and will gladly rethink the subject. RIP to the crew who died, and respect for the other crews who operated that day. They are all great heroes regardless of what happened in that moment.