Warplanes: April 14, 2004


Russia is offering for sale (at about $20 million each), its latest helicopter gunship; the Mi-28N "Night Hunter". This is an all weather,  night attack version of the 1980s era Mi-28A, with added FLIR (night vision sensor) and night fighting optics. The basic Mi-28 is a 11.6 ton helicopter that can carry 2.5 tons of rockets and missiles. The aircraft also has a 30mm cannon. The cockpit for the two man crew is armored and the helicopter has missile countermeasures (chaff and flares), GPS, head up display, laser designator and other gadgets. The Mi-28N will be replacing the 1960s era Mi-24 gunship in the Russian armed forces. The air force is buying 300, but the first fifty won't be delivered until 2010.

The Mi-28 has a top speed of 300 kilometers an hour and a one way range of 1,100 kilometers. The Mi-28 has been around in small quantities for two decades, but the Mi-28N is the most advanced model, on a par with the American AH-64 gunship (which is two tons lighter.) The first version of the Mi-28N was shown in 1996. But the Russian aviation industry was in no position to finance an aggressive sales campaign. Now it is. Last year, the Mil helicopter company had $600 million in sales, mostly from exports. Mil has improved quality control and gotten better at export sales. The Russian armed forces have received more money lately, and are beginning to replace older equipment.


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