Ukraine Shoots Down Three Russian Ka-52 Attack Helicopters In Just 30 Minutes; One Su-25 Fighter Also Downed

The Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) marked the eleven-month anniversary of the Russian invasion by shooting down three of Russia’s “most advanced” combat helicopters, according to reports.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a Facebook post on January 24 that three Ka-52 helicopters had been obliterated in the Donetsk region in less than 30 minutes. In addition, a Su-25 fighter jet belonging to the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) was also shot down.

The post read, “During January 24, Ukrainian Air Defense Forces shot down 3x Russian Ka-52 attack helicopters over a 30-minute span. The aircraft was performing missions in the vicinity of Yevhenivka (Volnovakha district, Donetsk oblast). Ukrainian defenders also shot down 1x Russian Su-25 in the vicinity of Bakhmut.”

According to a tweet from the Ukrainian Air Force, the helicopters were all downed by anti-aircraft missiles in the first hour on January 24. However, the tweet did not specify which anti-aircraft missile was used to bring down the choppers.

The Defense Ministry of Ukraine also took a jibe at the Russian helicopters by publishing a tweet that read, “The Alligators should not fly.”

This is not the first time that the AFU has downed multiple Russian choppers in record time. In October 2022, Ukraine’s armed forces reportedly obliterated four Russian helicopters in 18 minutes in the country’s south. One of these helicopters included the Ka-52 Alligator that crashed on the territory which, at the time, had recently been liberated from Russian control.

Due to the extensive deployment of air defense systems and anti-air missiles by the Ukrainian military, Russian aircraft refrain from entering Ukrainian airspace and fire missiles from a stand-off distance.

However, the Ka-52 chopper provides fire support and is mainly entrusted with destroying Ukrainian tanks. This is why the helicopter is at risk of being shot down by Kyiv’s air defense.

For instance, a recent viral video showed a Ka-52 helicopter blowing a Ukrainian defensive position near Ugledar. The Alligator has successfully taken out several Ukrainian tanks and military vehicles. However, several of these cutting-edge helicopters have expectedly been lost in combat after being hit by advanced MANPADS fielded by the AFU.

Ukraine estimates that Russia has lost 281 helicopters since the start of hostilities in February 2022. In December, Oryx’s open-source intelligence tracker asserted that Russia had lost at least 27 Ka-52 aircraft. With the known loss of 3 more, that number has climbed to 30 now, given that there weren’t more losses in the intervening period.

One Ka-52, projected as the best attack helicopter in the world, costs around $15 million. It is noteworthy that the anti-aircraft missile used to shoot down the Russian helicopter would have been just a fraction of the cost of one Ka-52 Alligator. More importantly, Russia lost $45 million worth of equipment in less than an hour.

Ka-52 Alligators Of The VKS

The Ka-52 is Russia’s most advanced combat helicopter, with a ceiling of 18,000 feet and a top speed of 186 mph. Its most notable characteristics include cockpit chairs that sit side by side and pilot ejection seats. Its six wing-mounted hard points can hold more than 4,000 pounds of weapons, including cannons, rocket launchers, and missiles.

A 30mm auto-cannon is located on the right side of the fuselage, and certain helicopter variations also feature a nose-mounted forward-looking infrared (FLIR) camera.

The Ka-52 helicopter, also referred to as the “Alligator,” is an all-weather attack helicopter built to annihilate unarmored and armored targets and troops and low-speed aerial targets. It is also used as an aerial command post and surveillance platform for a squadron of attack helicopters.

The Russian Aerospace Forces have used the Ka-52 extensively to accomplish these goals, and it can also destroy enemy soldiers and helicopters at the tactical depth or front lines.

The Ka-52’s performance in combat, where it suffered losses during the ongoing Ukraine War, directly refutes Russia’s assertions that it can smoothly operate in modern combat zones. Ukrainian MANPADS shot down nearly every Ka-52 lost in combat.

Ka-52 Alligator
File Image: Ka-52 Alligator

It has previously been reported that the helicopter experiences severe vibrations, which cause mechanical breakdowns and vibration-induced fatigue. Social media images and videos have previously depicted a variety of Ka-52 helicopter damages brought on by excessive body vibration during takeoff or landing.

In late December, a video that showed the Ukrainian military loading the rotorcraft went viral on social media leading to speculations that it would be studied by Western engineers. The helicopter was reportedly lost to the Ukrainian defense when the invasion was launched.

The Ka-52 attack helicopters reportedly stormed the Hostomel (Gostomel) airport on February 24, when Russia began its invasion of Ukraine to seize control of the landing strip. Several of these cutting-edge choppers have since been deployed and lost in combat.