Russia will respond to reports that Ukraine is expecting Western tanks. The European allies of Kyiv will send Challenger 2 and Leopard, while Washington will send Abrams. Moscow, logically, will not be idle, as evidenced by its actions immediately following news of future supplies to Ukraine.
On January 14, an upgraded Mi-28NM helicopter was spotted in Ukraine, just days before the decision to deliver tanks to Kyiv was made. This version was used in combat for the first time nearly five years ago in Syria.
Russia appears to be impressed with the helicopter, as it has placed an order for 100 units. They are expected to enter service in 2027. The Mi-28NM was spotted in Ukraine with a new weapon, the 9M120 anti-tank guided missile known as the Ataka.
The new cabin is airtight, ventilated, and air-conditioned, as well as armored, including a front armored glass that can withstand 12.7mm bullets. Additionally, armored partitions between crew members reduce the possibility of both pilots dying at the same time. The hull armor is capable of withstanding 20mm rounds.
For the first time, the pilot and the operator-navigator are separated in this type of helicopter.
In an emergency at a height of more than 100 meters, the crew can use parachutes to escape, and if they fall from a height of less than 100 meters, the energy of the impact is compensated by deformation of the landing gear and special energy-absorbing seats for the pilots. The pilot and pilot operator each activate the emergency ejection system separately.
To ensure the safety of the crew in the event of an accident, the cabin doors are removed and escape ladders are inflated, allowing the pilots to exit the helicopter. There is also an extra compartment with two or three seats for emergency evacuation of crews from crashed helicopters.
“The Mi-28NM is the latest modification of the Mi-28N. Its capabilities have been expanded, including maneuverability. The machine can use high-precision weapons and has a new control system with elements of artificial intelligence. The Mi-28NM can be used in the formation and quickly interacts with other helicopters, drones, and flying machines on the battlefield,” said a Russian expert Dmitry Litovkin.
He went on to note, the helicopter’s armament also includes kamikaze drones.
“The Mi-28NM enters a given area and launches one or several drones controlled by the helicopter. When enemy objects are detected, the crew issues target instructions and monitors the elimination of the objects,”.
The helicopter is capable of flying in both simple and complex weather conditions, as well as in manual and automatic mode with terrain lap. One significant change for Mi-28NM pilots is dual control, which allows the helicopter to be controlled by the navigator in the event of the pilot’s injury or death. The Mi-28N does not have such a system.
The complex allows for the use of weapons at any time and in any weather condition, as well as the possibility of group use of helicopters in battle, with target distribution among them and the exchange of target information between helicopters and air or ground command posts.
The helicopter control system fully integrates the pilot. Thanks to devices and systems, he has a comprehensive view of the battlefield situation.
In addition, the Mi-28NM has a new onboard radar that provides a circular overview. It can scan the airspace in a 90-degree and 44-degree range and detect various targets without revealing the helicopter’s identity. As a result, the crew’s lives are less at risk.
The complex also includes a high-frequency inertial navigation system for determining the helicopter’s location, speed, course, and other parameters; an on-board diagnostics system and multifunctional color indicators; and equipment for interacting with unmanned aerial vehicles. The controls for all onboard equipment are integrated into a single system.
The Russian Mi-28NM helicopter’s wings have already been spotted with the 9M120 Ataka missile. It was created in the late 1980s. It is highly valued by the Russian Air Force due to its long range of up to 25 kilometers. In Syria, the 9M120 Ataka has passed both state and real-world combat tests.
The 9M120 Ataka is distinguished by its combined guidance – inertial, satellite, and optical. The missile is specifically designed for air defense against heavily armored combat vehicles such as tanks, armored personnel carriers, anti-tank self-propelled guns, and so on.
The Mi-28NM is capable of firing two variants of the 9M120 Ataka. The first variant is a two-stage missile with a dual warhead. The second version is a missile that is designed to be launched from a ground-based launcher.
The Ataka missile is housed in a glass-reinforced plastic tube that also functions as a launcher. Its eventual opposition to Western tanks expected in Ukraine could hasten the missile’s export. Algeria, Iraq, and Uganda are currently interested.