Monday, July 11, 2016

Did the Russians shoot down their own helicopter in Syria by mistake?

(Syria) Last week, a Mi-35 (Hind) helicopter was downed inside Syria
with the Russians making a huge song and dance about how it was shot down by an American (Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided) TOW missile.

The thing is while it is possible for a TOW Missile to intercept a helicopter , it becomes much harder if the target is at height and at speed, which is something most anti-tank guided missiles simply cannot do, the TOW2 A like most TOWs has a further limiting factor it is wire guided, yes when it is launched, it spools two fine fibre optical wires behind it, which allows the controller to guide it onto its target.

Initially the Russians reported that no aircraft had been shot down and that everybody was accounted for:
All Russian combat helicopters in Syria have returned from combat missions to the airbase, a spokesman for the Russian airbase at Hmeimim said on Friday. "All Russian combat helicopters deployed in Syria have safely returned to the airdromes upon completion of their missions," he said. "There are no losses among Russian aircraft."
But, when a video was published showing the downing of this Mi-35, the Russians admitted that they had lost 2 pilots, however, they were testing a Syrian helicopter when it was hit.
The Russian Defense Ministry said Saturday that Daesh terrorists shot down a helicopter near Syria’s Palmyra, killing two Russian military instructor pilots. On July 8, Russian military instructor pilots conducted a test flight of a Syrian Mi-25 helicopter (export version of the Mi-24 helicopter), when it received a request from the Syrian authorities to carry out airstrikes against a large group of Daesh terrorists advancing to the east of Palmyra, the ministry said. "The crew received a request from the Syrian unit’s command to strike the advancing fighters. The captain, Ryafagat Khabibulin, made a decision to attack the terrorists. The skillful actions of the Russian crew thwarted the terrorists’ advance. When the helicopter’s ammunition was spent and it changed its course to the opposite direction, it was shot down by terrorists from the ground and crashed in an area controlled by the Syrian government army. The helicopter’s crew was killed."
The thing is, the video shows a Mi-35 and not a Mi-24 as used by the Syrians (the Mi-24 has a retractable undercarriage, the Mi-35 doesn't, the helicopter in the video has a solid undercarriage). Also, all Mi-35 are fitted with a Vitebsk APS protection system designed to protect them from missile attack.

So what brought down the Mi-35 then? Well, according to Ruslan Leviev, it could have been brought down by its wingman who was behind the front Mi-35 as they were strafing enemy positions. His post goes into much greater detail than mine, which explains how there is no sign of a missile approaching the downed helicopter, how the smoke plumes which are seen from the S-5 rockets launched from the helicopter are mirrored exactly at the site of the explosion.

So what exactly did bring down the Russian helicopter? According to Moscow, it was a nasty American anti-tank weapon. Well, that looks to be most incorrect. Could the Russians be covering up a blue-on-blue incident?