In a recently surfaced video, a Ukrainian Mi-24V Hind chopper can be seen armed with US-made unguided 70mm Hydra rockets, representing the latest instance of Western munitions utilized by the country’s Air Force.
The video that emerged on X (formerly Twitter) depicts Ukrainian airmen loading American Hydra 70mm unguided rockets into the rocket pod of the Mi-24V helicopter, which appears to be one of the units donated to Ukraine by the Czech Republic.
The rocket pod appears to be a 19-tube M261 rocket pod, securely fastened to the left-side stub wing of the Czech-supplied Mi-24V Helicopter using a specially designed adapter.
In addition to the pylon adapter, the precise extent of modifications necessary for successfully integrating the Hydra rockets onto the Hind helicopter remains somewhat uncertain.
Moreover, whether the Ukrainian military has extended this capability to other platforms within its arsenal, such as the Mi-8/Mi-17 Hip armed transport helicopters, remains unanswered and undisclosed.
Czech-supplied Mi-24V Hind-E gunship, newly equipped with US supplied Hydra-70 rockets in M261 rocket pods, in Ukrainian Army Aviation service. pic.twitter.com/l8i2KFEdbF
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) August 2, 2023
The Hydra 70 rocket is a powerful 2.75-inch (70mm) diameter fin-stabilized unguided munition, primarily employed in the air-to-ground role, lauded by defense manufacturer General Dynamics as a lightweight and effective weapon system with multi-mission capabilities.
Designed with flexibility, the system offers nine different warhead options, empowering operators to tailor their approach based on specific mission requirements.
According to General Dynamics, this “tailor-made solution” concept ensures optimal results when engaging diverse targets on the battlefield, and the affordability of these rockets makes them a practical choice for addressing lower-value threats during military operations.
Nonetheless, modifying the Hind helicopter to accommodate these US-made rockets has sparked interest and discussion among netizens, with many praising Ukraine’s impressive efforts in effectively integrating Western weaponry onto its Soviet-era aircraft.
One X user noted that Ukraine, out of “necessity,” has demonstrated exceptional adaptability, successfully incorporating a diverse range of technologies.
One striking example of Western ammunition successfully employed by Soviet-era planes in Ukraine is the utilization of High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARMs), which Kyiv has ingeniously adapted to function with their aging aircraft.
Additionally, Ukraine’s aging aircraft utilize advanced British-supplied stealthy Storm Shadow land-attack cruise missiles and Joint Direct Attack Munition-Extended Range (JDAM-ER) precision-guided bombs.
Hydra-70 Rockets In Ukraine
The rockets in the latest video appear to be standard unguided variants equipped with high-explosive warheads. However, the specific types of warheads received by Ukraine’s forces have not been explicitly disclosed, leaving uncertainty about their exact armament.
According to a prior press release from the US Department of State, aid packages for Ukraine comprised more than 7,000 Hydra-70 aircraft rockets.
Since 1996, General Dynamics has produced an impressive quantity of over four million air-launched Hydra-70 rockets, showcasing the widespread deployment and reliability of this munition.
The munition has a range of around 10,500 meters or about 6.5 miles. As previously reported by the EurAsian Times, the Hydra-70 rockets can be upgraded into precision-guided munitions with the help of the APKWS II system, which Ukraine has also received.
However, current information does not indicate that Ukraine’s Hinds are utilizing APKWS II rockets. In the ongoing conflict, Ukrainian helicopters have been frequently observed adopting an indirect firing technique, unleashing volleys of unguided rockets toward Russian forces.
Similarly, Ukrainian Su-25 Frogfoot ground attack jets have adopted a similar tactic, showcasing their adaptability. Recent strikes by these jets have included the use of US-supplied unguided five-inch Zuni rockets.
Furthermore, the supply of thousands of Hydras to Ukraine highlights the depletion of comparable Soviet-designed unguided aircraft rockets in the country. This situation is exacerbated by the intensified requirements for the counter-offensive, placing additional strain on the existing stockpiles.
Russia’s air defenses have been a serious threat to Ukraine throughout the conflict, but they have become even more concerning amid the ongoing major counter-offensive.
Therefore, using unguided rockets by armed helicopters serves a strategic purpose, aiming to minimize the launching aircraft’s vulnerability to enemy air defenses.
While these rockets may have questionable accuracy and outcomes in hitting specific targets, their deployment helps create a barrage of suppressive fire, deterring potential threats and adversaries.