- New video shows a Russian Aerospace Forces Ka-52 Alligator destroyed by a Ukrainian anti-tank guided missile.
- A Ka-52 Alligator can be seen hovering at very low altitude, allowing the Ukrainians to aim and fire their missile.
Not only are Ukrainian MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense Systems) a significant threat to the Russian Ka-52 and Mi-28 gunship helicopters operating over Ukraine but also ATGMs.
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- What are MANPADS, the portable missiles bringing down Russian aircraft?
The following clip has started to circulate online on social media on April 5, 2022, and shows a Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) Alligator gunship shot down by a Ukrainian Stugna-P ATGM.
Read more: Ukraine down russian helicopters
The video says it all: you can see the Ka-52 hovering at very low altitude over some trees, allowing the Ukrainian operator to aim and fire the deadly tank-booster missile at the helicopter. In a matter of a few seconds, the Russian gunship is hit by the missile.
Most of the videos we have seen emerging from Ukraine so far show the Russian Ka-52 carrying unguided rockets and Vikhr ATGMs.
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We have already explained how unguided rockets are fired at targets: the helicopters fly at low level then pull up into steep climb, and launch the rockets at the top of the parabolic arc of their flightpath, sending them downrange, then they break hard left and escape fast at low altitude.
While fairly inaccurate, the tactic of lobbing rockets allows the helicopter to hit area targets from longer distance while remaining outside of man portable air defense systems’ kill zone. However, this has not always saved them, as the video of the Mi-28 reportedly shot down by a Starstreak missile few days ago proves.
Dealing with the ATGM, the 9K121 Vikhr (NATO reporting name: AT-16 Scallion) is a laser beam riding anti-tank missile. This kind of missile uses a Line-Of-Sight Beam Riding (LOSBR) or beam guidance, meaning that it requires the helicopter to keep the target in constant Line Of Sight.
In contested airspace or in areas infested by MANPADS, hovering at low level while keeping the beam pointing at the target can be extremely dangerous. This is why more modern stand-off weapons are obviously much more suitable for such scenarios.
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Dealing with the Ukrainian ATGM used in the above video, it is a Stugna-P. Designed in Ukraine and produced by the Luch Design Bureau, headquartered in Kyiv, the Stugna-P also known as “Skif” in the export version, is an anti-tank system with a maximum range of 5.5 km (daylight conditions).
It consists of a tripod, missile container, PDU-215 remote control panel, guidance device and thermal image and is usually deployed with a team to three to four persons. Two firing modes are available: manual, and fire-and-forget.
Fire-and-forget provides automatic control of the missile flight using a targeting laser beam. Once the missile is fired, the operator can use a targeting reticle and joystick to correct the aim and steer the missile.
Interestingly, the PDU-215 allows the control of the unit from up to 50 meters away: this means that the team can set up the launcher on its tripod in a specific launch position and remotely control it from cover using a control system connected to the launcher by long cable.