Russia plans Mi-28N helicopter upgrade

The Russian Defense Ministry plans to upgrade Mi-28N helicopters to the Mi-28NM level. A prototype can make the first flight in the autumn of 2020. It will have more powerful and longer-range missiles, upgraded optics and radar. The upgrade will increase combat capabilities of the helicopter without excessive costs, the Izvestia daily writes.

Russia plans Mi 28N helicopter upgrade 01 Mi-28N helicopter,  with radar station (Picture source:Vitaly V. Kuzmin)

At present, Mi-28N plans to make the first flight, defense industry sources said. It had to take off in the spring of 2020, however the deadline may be delayed. The prototype will begin factory trials after that.

The project has to upgrade Mi-28N helicopter gunships and possibly Mi-28UB training rotorcraft to the level of the latest Mi-28NM. It will be able to operate in any weather and detect and destroy targets at a major distance.

Mi-28 Syrian experience prompted in 2016 to increase combat capabilities and autonomy. The Mil helicopter plant financed the design of the modification at its own expense. Mi-28UB latest version of the family was the basis. The Defense Ministry approved the general concept of the upgraded rotorcraft.

“Modernization is always cheaper than the construction of a new helicopter,” former Commander of the 4th air force and defense army Lieutenant-General Valery Gorbenko said.

“Mi-28 is not an old vehicle and can serve for long. The modernization will improve the element base, controls and other equipment,” he said.

A long operation of successful designs with certain changes is a global practice, he added.

Russia plans Mi 28N helicopter upgrade 02 Mi-28NM (Picture source: Army Recognition)

The main change will concern the sighting complex of Mi-28NM. The nose of the helicopter will change. So far, it is unclear whether Mi-28N will obtain above-rotor round-view radar of Mi-28NM. Mi-28UB already carries the radar. Arms controls will be renewed and unified with Mi-28NM. It will allow carrying more weapons. The helicopter will be able to engage several new missiles, including long-range Hermes-A with a range of 15-20 km. Media reports said a longer-range option of 25 km was being designed for Mi-28NM. The missiles will approach the assigned point by the inertial navigation system. The homing warhead will activate at the final flight stage to independently detect moving targets.

Upgraded Mi-28N will carry suspended powerful Khrisantema-V and Khrisantema-VM guided missiles. It will be able to destroy tanks and buildings at a distance of 10 km. The missile can be guided by a laser beam or radio command from a suspended container.

The helicopter will keep the capability to fire cheap Ataka missiles with various warheads, as well as unguided projectiles. A standard Mi-28N option will be armed with unguided missiles and bombs up to 500 kg.

Mi-28NM built from scratch is powered by VK-2500P engine and has upgraded all-composite blades of the lifting rotor which increase the speed 10-13 percent. So far, it is unclear whether the new modification will undergo such an upgrade.

The Russian Aerospace Forces have to receive 98 new Mi-28NM by 2027. The contract was signed at Army-2019 forum. At present, the army aviation operates close to 120 previous Mi-28 modifications. Most of them are Mi-28N. The Defense Ministry ordered 67 units in 2006. Another contract followed in 2010 for 30 helicopters of the type. In 2016, the ministry signed a contract to procure 24 Mi-28UB rotorcraft.

The upgrade of all Mi-28N and Mi-28UB will give Russia a fleet of over 200 modern helicopter gunships of the Mi family, the Izvestia said.

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