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Ukraine lessons: is bringing an attack helicopter to a missile fight too dangerous?

15th September 2023 - 13:00 GMT | by Edward Hunt in London

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The relatively lightly armoured Ka-52 has proved particularly vulnerable to Ukraine’s highly mobile air defences. (Photo: Rosoboronexport)

According to multiple OSINT sources, Russian forces have lost possibly as many as 200 rotary-wing aircraft since February 2022. Some of these occurred in early high-profile operations, but most have been attrition casualties during the ongoing fighting. Shephard analyses the nature of these losses, and what lessons NATO attack helicopter operators should draw.

The absolute number of helicopters downed or written off amounts to possibly 10% of the Russian operational fleet, but as these are likely more advanced variants flown by better crews, that remains a significant dent in capability. Interestingly, it is the relatively modern Ka-52 model that forms the bulk of these losses.

The reasons for this experience, and how the situation has evolved, are of interest to other operators keen to draw lessons on their own approach to rotary-wing operations, especially as the US and others are accelerating new helicopter development.

Why has Russia lost so many helicopters in Ukraine?

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Edward Hunt

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Edward Hunt


Edward has worked in the aerospace and defence Industry since 2005, initially for Jane’s and then …

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