Air Platforms

Russia to deploy Ka-52 helicopters to Syria

18 January 2016
Russia already appears to have the Vitebsk system deployed to Syria on an Mi-8AMTSh helicopter, seen here taking off at the Humaymim Air Base in Latakia province. Source: RT

Key Points

  • The Ka-52 attack helicopter looks likely to become the latest Russian platform to make its combat debut in Syria
  • An Mi-8AMTSh has been carrying the L370 Vitebsk defensive aids suite

Kamov Ka-52 ('Hokum-B') attack helicopters carrying the L370 Vitebsk defensive aids suite will deploy to Syria to provide security for the Russian task force at Humaymin Air Base in Latakia province, a defence industry source told the TASS news agency on 15 January.

"Ka-52 helicopters equipped with the Vitebsk electronic warfare system will be deployed to Syria soon. They will not only control the situation around the Humaymim airfield, but also conduct combat search-and-rescue operations [CSAR]," the source said.

He noted that the deployment will provide an opportunity to test the Ka-52 in a war zone for the first time.

At present the Russian air group operates Mil Mi-24P and upgraded Mi-35M attack helicopters, as well as Mi-8AMTSh transport/attack helicopters, one of which was lost to ground fire during a CSAR operation on 24 November.

The Vitebsk system includes radar and laser warning systems, as well as active electro-optic and radar jammers.

It already appears to have been deployed to Syria on an Mi-8AMTSh helicopter that was seen in footage broadcast by the Russian news channel RT on 11 January. The helicopter carried an electro-optical turret on each of its weapon pylons and another on its tail: a configuration associated with the Vitebsk's directed infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) capability.

DIRCMs are designed to defeat infrared-guided surface-to-air missile systems. While Syrian rebels have been seen with such systems in the past, no Russian aircraft have been lost to one as yet.

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