Warplanes: Night Hawk Finally Finds a Home at Home

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March 15, 2006: Two years after first offering it for sale, Russia has begun production of its new helicopter gunship, the Mi-28N "Night Hunter." A buyer has been found; the Russian Air Force. Twenty Mi-28Ns are to be delivered over the next three years. Russia had tried to sell the Mi-28N abroad, without success. But that did allow for some serious comparison workouts with the foreign competition, and the KA-50, the Mi-28Ns Russian competition for domestic orders. The Mi-28N won that battle, and is costing buyers about $20 million each.

The Mi-28N "Night Hunter" 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 wants to buy 300, and would like to get at least fifty before the end of the decade. That will depend more on the price of oil than anything else.

The Mi-28N 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, although the manufacturer, Mil, wasn't ready to offer for sale until 2004.

 


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