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Russia develops Mi-28NM gunship as a breakthrough combat helicopter, says chief designer

The gunship’s advanced defensive aids suite allows it to successfully repel attacks by a potential enemy’s ground and airborne air defense systems, the chief designer informed

MOSCOW, May 18. /TASS/. The latest Mil Mi-28NM attack helicopter features breakthrough technology, Chief Designer of the Combat Helicopters Program at the Mil and Kamov National Helicopter Center (part of the Russian Helicopters Group within the state tech corporation Rostec) Vitaly Shcherbina told TASS on Tuesday.

"We can say that the Mi-28NM is quite a different helicopter both by the ideology of its employment and the technologies integrated into its design, and it can be rightly called a next-generation or breakthrough helicopter compared to the baseline version. The Mi-28NM’s onboard armament allows it to detect and destroy enemy targets round the clock and in any weather conditions while operating outside of the enemy’s effective air defenses," the chief designer stressed.

The gunship’s advanced defensive aids suite allows it to successfully repel attacks by a potential enemy’s ground and airborne air defense systems while the onboard communications system features network-centric capabilities, Shcherbina said.

"The onboard communications and telecoms system offers a possibility for the helicopters to interact in a group, operate in air and ground communications networks, implementing the network-centric methods of weapons’ control on the battlefield, i.e. to get information on the enemy and friendly forces in a secure jam-resistant mode timely and without delays," the chief designer added.

The design of Mi-28NM ‘Night Hunter’ gunships considerably differs from the helicopter’s baseline version, Shcherbina said.

The upgraded helicopter features a new fuselage design, modernized engines and an auxiliary powerplant, new onboard electronic warfare equipment and advanced weapons. The layout of the chopper’s fuselage nose section has been altered to mount a new target sight system and now integrates a drone interface module, the chief designer specified.

In their work on upgrading the ‘Night Hunter’ combat helicopter, specialists of the Mil and Kamov National Helicopter Center also used the experience of developing the Mi-28UB combat trainer. In particular, the new helicopter’s front cabin features a second control system. The helicopter’s crew cabin has also been modernized. The gunship’s commander and operating pilot will now get all the data on the situation and all the onboard systems in larger amounts and in an easier form that will enhance the crew’s situational awareness, facilitate interoperability and increase the quickness of making decisions in a complex combat environment.

Mi-28 helicopters can be upgraded to advanced Mi-28NM gunships

A plan for modernizing old Mi-28N/Mi-28NE and Mi-28UB helicopters to the level of the latest Mi-28NM gunships has been approved by Russia’s Defense Ministry, the chief designer said.

"Since 2015, we have been developing a plan to modernize baseline Mi-28N/Mi-28NE and Mi-28UB helicopters to the level of the functional capabilities of Mi-28NM rotorcraft. This plan has been agreed upon with military authorities and approved by a Russian deputy defense minister. It stipulates upgrading helicopters in the course of their major repairs," he said.

The upgrade envisages outfitting Mi-28N/Mi-28NE helicopters with dual control, individual protection kits and a modernized optoelectronic target sight system similar to that on the Mi-28NM, the chief designer said.

This effort also stipulates installing a next-generation onboard radar station and expanding the armaments with light multi-purpose missiles, bombing weapons and new-generation rockets, and adding an option to operate in conjunction with unmanned aerial vehicles, Shcherbina said.

"Meanwhile, it is forecast that the upgrade of Mi-28N and Mi-28UB baseline helicopters is economically advantageous and expedient to maintain the combat potential of a grouping of army aviation attack gunships," he stressed.