Russian commandos to get Mi-8AMTSh-VN helicopter in 2020

Russian commandos will receive Mi-8AMTSh helicopter gunships in 2020. The trials are scheduled in autumn. The craft can carry commandos and support them with fire. The heaviest option of the helicopter will carry guided air-to-surface missiles and bombs. The payload will destroy ground, sea and air targets at a distance of 20 km. Modern avionics, electronic systems, radars and heat imagers provide for all-weather and round-the-clock engagement. Such hardware has been long necessary for commandos, the Izvestia daily writes.

Russian commandos to get Mi 8AMTSh VN helicopter in 2020 Mi-8AMTSh-VN (Picture source: Air Recognition)

The first prototypes will be tested in the autumn of 2020 most likely in the helicopter retraining center in Torzhok, sources in the Defense Ministry told the newspaper.

The Mil enterprise decided to initiate the design of a commando helicopter in 2017. In May 2018, the Sapsan R&D was approved by the Defense Ministry. Over 800 million rubles were appropriated. The contract for the first ten helicopters was signed with the Russian Helicopters Holding at Army forum in 2019.

The design of the first prototype with unguided arms has to be completed in early 2020. The second prototype with a full set of guided missiles is to be supplied to commandos by the end of the year.

The increased payload will make the helicopter heavier. The craft will have a more powerful engine than Mi-8AMTSh has today.

The firepower will be bigger than any helicopter gunship has. One of the arms is product 305. Open sources said it is prospective guided antitank missile with a range of 20 km. It is twice bigger than the range of available antitank missiles. Upgraded Ka-52M and Mi-28NM are to be armed with the missiles.

The universal helicopter combines broad combat and airborne capabilities for commando units, expert Valery Yuryev said. In Afghanistan, Mi-8 airlifted commandos to the mission area and left. A carousel of two Mi-24 usually protected the airborne assault.

"A modern helicopter has to have a major firepower, a big ammunition round and good transportation capabilities. It has to land a group and destroy objects while commandos approach the area. It should be a flying tank. It is more effective than fire support from APC or tanks, as the situation is better visible from the air. The helicopter has to have a powerful engine," Yuryev said.

Mi-8 is a unique helicopter which has not exhausted its potential, merited test pilot and Hero of Russia Igor Malikov said. "If necessary, it can be developed into anything, including a universal transport helicopter gunships. We need such a helicopter because of numerous local wars in the world," he said.

Besides long-range air-to-surface missiles, the new helicopter can fire Ataka 9M120 antitank guided missiles with cumulative, fragmentation and thermobaric warheads. Their range is close to six kilometers.

Besides guided missiles, Mi-8AMTSh-VN will be armed with a traditional set of unguided rocket-propelled shells, large-caliber machineguns, suspended containers with air guns and automatic grenade launchers. It will also drop 50 to 500 kg air bombs.

The heaviest option will carry four long-range air-to-surface missile, up to eight Ataka or two tons of air bombs. Four Verba air-to-air missiles can be suspended.

The R&D also created additional protection. The cargo compartment of Mi-8AMTSh-VN will have dismountable armor against firearms. Serial Mi-8AMTSh have protection for the pilots, back machinegun and important systems. The new modification will protect commandos with armor.

GOES-321MK optical electronic station with a heat imager will provide for round-the-clock operation in any weather. At present, it is mounted on Mi-35M. OPS-24N-1L sight with laser missile guidance will be borrowed from it. It is necessary for the new helicopter to fire all guided missiles.

All electronic equipment will be interfaced with IBKV-17VP onboard computer. The glass cockpit has four big indicator panels. The devices are adapted to night vision goggles.

L370V35MS optical-electronic jammer of the Vitebsk family will provide protection against manpads. Optional equipment includes devices to receive and process information from drones, an onboard radar and warning equipment against radar irradiation, the Izvestia said.

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