By Joseph Roukoz
In service with the Russian Army in the Mi-28N configuration, the Night Hunter in its export version, the Mi-28NE, has been exhibited and demonstrated in fly for the first time at the Dubai Airshow 2021. The export version, which is already in service in Iraq and Algeria, demonstrated its flight capabilities in the Dubai sky, performing aerobatic maneuvers and showing its considerable speed, the Night Hunter reaching a 280 km/h maximum and 230 km/h cruise speeds.
The Mi-28 has a two seats in tandem configuration which makes it pretty narrow when seen from the front, the helicopter features a traditional architecture, with a single 17.2 meters diameter main rotor and a tail rotor with stabilizer. Powered by two VK-2500-08 turboshaft providing a take-off power of 2,200 hp each, the Night Hunter has a standard maximum take-off weight of 10,900 kg, however in ferry flight version it can take off at 12,140 kg to ensure a range of 1,000 km, standard operational range being over 400 km.
Its 2,350 kg payload allows it to carry a whole set of armament, including the chin-mounted 2A42-2 automatic 30 mm cannon with 250 rounds, Igla air-to-air missile, Ataka antitank missiles, as well as S-8 and S-13 rocket pod launchers, respectively with 20 80 mm and 5 122 mm rockets. Weapons are fitted under the sub wings, each having two pylons. However having a huge number of weapons would be useless without an effective target acquisition system.
Beside the pilots’ thermal imager used for navigation, the Russian attack helicopter is fitted with a day/night observation and sighting system at the front; the latter, knwon as БРЭО in Cyrillic, the acronym for Onboard Radio Electronic Equipment. The БРЭО ensures search, detection and identification of ground and air targets, providing also their grids; it also handles the choice of armament according to the target, as well as that of threats data coming from on-board sensors.
Survivability is ensured by a suite of sensors providing warning against radars, lasers and missiles, signature management being another key element of the Nigh Hunter defensive posture. The crew is protected by a layer of armoured elements, a crew rescue system by parachute being available at altitudes over 100 meters, energy absorbing seats ensuring injury reduction in case of crash. However the best survival feature is situational awareness, and to this end the Mi-28 NE is equipped with a 360° surveillance radar mounted on top of the rotor mast, which provides long range warning while of course contributing also to the targeting process.
Designed for destroying enemy armour, the Night Hunter can of course engage also softer targets such as light armoured or unarmoured vehicles, infantry, as well as low-speed air targets.
At Dubai the Night Hunter flew alongside with the Alligator, the Ka-52 having a similar function but with a wholly different architecture, Russian Helicopters intending to give a choice to those nations that are looking for a well-proven combat helicopter.
Photos by J. Roukoz