Russia: October 30, 2003

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Lieutenant-General Anatoly Surtsukov, head of the Air Force Army Aviation Department, told journalists that army aviation has lately been bearing the brunt of the air support missions in Chechnya. However, Surtsukov did not rule out that the army aviation units in Chechnya may be reduced now that control of the operation has been handed over from the Federal Security Service to the Interior Ministry. 

While describing that one of aviation's support missions is "single pinpoint strikes at bands and depots detected and verified through reconnaissance," Surtsukov cautioned against using the KA-50 "Black Shark" in Chechnya (since it's designed for stand-off attacks against armored vehicles). While the Ka-50 was used in Chechnya over the 2001 to 2002 winter, the bottom line was that it was too expensive to risk in the type of missions helicopters are required to perform there. 

Helicopter crews currently perform scouting tasks, conducting electronic and thermal reconnaissance, as well as transport, search and rescue operations. Gunships also escort military supply truck columns and military trains. For instance, during the week an MI-24 Hind and MI-8 Hip helicopter came under assault rifle fire. One pilot was wounded. In another incident, an MI-24 spotted a rebel ambush on a road in the Vedeno district and launched a missile strike to "disperse the rebels", killing three of them. - Adam Geibel


 

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