Russia’s Kamov Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter seems to have emerged as its top tank killer, with another video showing it was destroying two Ukrainian tanks by firing air-launched Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) in southern Donetsk.
A video of the action released by the Russian Ministry of Defense (RuMoD) showed the tanks’ destruction in the helicopter’s electro-optical system (EOS).
This comes amid Ukraine’s enthusiastic counteroffensive, where it has already lost many German-made Leopard tanks and several American Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV).
Russian observers acknowledge the intensity and doggedness of the attempts. While they are confident of not allowing Ukrainian breakthroughs, they are also not leaving anything to chance to prepare for several more months of hostilities.
The Alligator, too, has been upgraded, with the Russian military receiving the heavily modernized ‘M’ variant in January this year. The tactics used to employ it, too, have improved vastly, where it flew with dedicated Electronic Warfare (EW) Mi-8 MTPR-1 helicopter as a two-chopper pair to jam and hunt Ukrainian ground targets, featured in a January EurAsian Times report.
A subsequent report on June 13 pointed to the Ka-52 using its externally-mounted Vitebsk-25 EW system to jam and deflect Ukrainian shoulder-fired Man-Portable Air Defense (MANPAD).
Two Tanks Destroyed – Video
The video from the Ka-52’s EOS and Heads Up Display (HUD) showed a thermal imaging view of two tanks, claimed to belong to Ukraine in the middle of an open field, parked close to each other.
The first missile shot is seen from the HUD and then is captured in the EOS for the rest of its journey. The missile is most likely the 9-A-4172K Vikhr-1 ATGM.
It takes about 12 seconds to reach the target and hit the tank in the front. A second missile is fired and, taking about the same amount of time, hits the second tank behind the first.
The second missile causes a similar explosion upon the primary contact, following which the helicopter banks to the left. The tanks, however, could not be identified based on their blurred silhouettes.
Russia Destroyed Abandoned Tanks?
Curiously, only pieces of debris could be seen flying off, but no massive explosion. Neither is any crew seen escaping the vehicles. Generally, following hits that do not completely destroy a vehicle, the crew, within seconds, tries escaping through hatches.
The first tank also does not see a secondary explosion that usually ignites the ammunition inside, leading to a bigger blast with a larger, more intense inferno that burns longer.
Oddly, the second tank’s crew does not escape after seeing the first tank getting hit. Also, very usually, the second tank does not try to drive away from the position. Thus based on these oddities, the possibility of these being abandoned tanks cannot be ruled out.
The RuMoD statement described the action: “Repelling an attack by militants of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the South-Donetsk direction, the crew of the Ka-52 destroyed two tanks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which were firing at the positions of Russian military personnel, with guided missiles. Both pieces of enemy equipment were destroyed along with the crews.”
A New Alligator Variant – The Ka-52M
The Alligator in the video could also likely be the Ka-52M variant, which began reaching Russian units in January in anticipation of a tank war breaking out with Western-made armor. This was touched upon in a previous EurAsian Times analysis.
It concluded that Russia was in a better place to successfully hold off an armored thrust since it possessed not only tanks but also ground-launched anti-tank weapons, loitering munitions, artillery, and heavy-class helicopter gunships.
This version also has the new GOES-451M Electro-Optical System (EOS) turret mounted under the nose, with a longer viewing range. A TASS report from October last year, without identifying the new sighting system, said it would “expand the possibilities of using weapons at night.”
“The range of detection and recognition of the target of the thermal imaging channel of the upgraded sight has been doubled,” it added.
Russian Ka-52 ‘Alligator’ Attack Helicopter destroys two Ukrainian tanks with air-launched anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM).#Ka52 #alligator #helicopter #Tank #MBT #Ukraine #ATGM #missile #Russia #UkraineRussiaWar pic.twitter.com/hUhXUcpWHw
— EurAsian Times (@THEEURASIATIMES) June 16, 2023
The video from the RuMoD could therefore be from this very sighting system. A previous video that went around on many Twitter handles showed a thermal view of a rocket heading towards a long Ukrainian armored convoy and hitting a vehicle in the middle.
The convoy was part of the 47th Separate Mechanized Brigade in the Zaporizhzhia area on June 8, which was hit from a distance of roughly 10 kilometers. The posts claimed the firing had destroyed M2A2 Bradley IFV, ODS-SA, and Leopard 2A6 tanks.
It is also possible that the same variant might also be carrying the Vitebsk-25 EW system mentioned earlier. However, Russian state and defense news media did not mention this system. Its other armaments include the Hermes-A long-range and the LMUR (or the Izdeliye 305/Product 305) air-to-ground missiles.