40 Years Of The Night Hunter: The Legendary Mi-28 Attack Helicopter

The Mi-28 attack helicopter celebrates its 40th anniversary of its maiden flight, and this combat vehicle is expected to remain in service for many more decades.

On November 10, 1982, the Mi-28 attack helicopter prototype (nicknamed the Night Hunter) officially flew into the sky, and now 40 years later, it is still one of the most important armed helicopters of the Russian Armed Forces.

The history of this amazing machine begins in 1976, the Council of Ministers of the USSR passed a resolution on the construction of a new attack helicopter, whose combat performance could surpass the Mi-24 and the US Apache. Under the direction of distinguished engineer Mark Weinberg, the Mil Design Bureau has developed an attack helicopter around the traditional concept of a two-seat, single-main rotor, and a tail rotor. It is noteworthy that at that time the Kamov Design Bureau also proposed to create a prototype of a single-seat armed helicopter, but with a coaxial rotor configuration, without a tail rotor, the Ka-50 Black Shark.

Flight tests of competing helicopters began in June 1982, but unfortunately just before the first flight, the Mi-28 had problems with the powertrain. The helicopter needed to be modified within a few months. At that point, the Ka-50 showed it was far ahead of its competition. At 11 a.m. on November 10, 1982, Mi-28 took its first flight.

A series of preliminary tests show that single-seat aircraft were easy to build, but for more effective combat, attack helicopters with two pilots showed more advantages. During a test on both the Ka-50 and Mi-28, the pilots’ task was to find and detect 25 targets. Mi-28 had shown superiority over Ka-50.

In 1987, after passing the tests, the Mi-28A helicopter was built, two years later it was displayed at the Le Bourget air show in Paris and at an exhibition in Red Hill near London. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the completion of the promising helicopter continued in Rostov-on-Don, and in 2009 the Night Hunter was officially put into service. Mi-28 has good controllability and powerful weapons.

Currently the most advanced version of Mi-28 is called Mi-28NM Night Hunter. It has been exported by Russia to several countries as well as actively used on the Ukrainian battlefield. However, the role of the Mi-28 in Ukraine is not outstanding, even worse than that of the Ka-52 Alligator. Quite a few “Night Hunters” were shot down by Man-portable air-defense systems. Mi-28 has an empty weight of 8.59 tons, maximum takeoff weight of 11.5 tons. It is powered by two Klimov TV3-117 turboshaft engines, with 2,194 hp each. The Mi-28 can reach a maximum speed of up to 320 km/h, a cruise speed of 270 km/h, and a range of 435 km.


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