Procurement: Mi-28N in South America

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January 29, 2008: Venezuela has ordered four Russian Mi28N helicopter gunships, just as the first two production models were delivered to the Russian Air Force. For several years, there was intense completion, to decide which of its two new helicopter gunship designs (the Ka-50 and Mi-28N) to standardize on. Last year, the Mi-28N won, and the current plan is to build at least 10-15 a year, for the next few years, than increasing production, depending on export orders, until 300 are delivered to the Russian armed forces, and the three decade old Mi-24 helicopter gunship is completely replaced.

 

 The Mi-28N is a capable helicopter, costing about the same as the earlier AH-64A ($15 million each for the basic model).  The Mi-28N "Night Hunter" is an all weather; night attack version of the 1980s era Mi-28A, with added FLIR (night vision sensor), night fighting optics and a two man crew. The basic Mi-28 is a 11.6 ton helicopter that can carry 1.6 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 has a top speed of 300 kilometers an hour and a one way range of 1,100 kilometers. It can carry up to 16 anti-tank missiles (with a range of up to eight kilometers). The helicopter can also carry 80mm rockets, bombs or fuel for additional range. 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-64D gunship (which is a little 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. Even then, regular production didn't get under way until last year.