Soviet combat helicopter Mi-28 - hunter of the night sky (Topic)

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Soviet combat helicopter Mi-28 - hunter of the night sky


The Soviet Mi-28 helicopter possesses first-class capabilities. The machine performs various aerobatics, including the famous loop, flips in the air, sideways and backward flights. For this reason, the helicopter is part of the equipment used by the well-known aerobatic team "Berkuts".

Work on the creation of the Mi-28 began in 1976. The Soviet leadership set a task for the engineers: to develop an attack vehicle that would surpass the current Mi-24 helicopter and the American Apache helicopter in terms of characteristics and efficiency. As a result, two leading design bureaus of the USSR presented their helicopter models for the competition. Among them was the famous "Black Shark", aka the Ka-50 helicopter manufactured by the Kamov Design Bureau, and the Mi-28 by Mil Design Bureau. Unlike the Black Shark, the Mi-28 Night Hunter helicopter was based on the classic concept of a single-rotor flight model with two seats for the pilot and navigator (the Ka-50 was designed as a single-seater vehicle).

Improved version of Mi-24

One of the key decisions in the creation of the Mi-28 project was the arrangement of the combat crew cabin. The designers did not place the pilot's and navigator's seats next to each other, since this arrangement interfered with a sufficient view. In addition, nearby places could interfere in the event of an emergency ejection. The engineers used the "tandem" scheme, which was repeatedly tested in practice in the Mi-24. It consisted in the fact that the pilot's seat was slightly raised above the navigator-operator's seat. Later, the success of such a cockpit layout was recognized as a worldwide experience.


A fundamentally important difference between the Mi-28 and the Mi-24 was the separation of the engines. This design solution protected two engines from possible damage at once, and at the same time they acted as additional protection for the main gearbox and the machine control system.

The designers who worked on the helicopter used new technical solutions in their project to improve the ergonomics of the future "Night Hunter". So, to start the Mi-24 engine, it is necessary to perform more than a hundred operations, while the Mi-28 helicopter needed only 18 for this, which was a colossal difference. The Mi-28 became a kind of experimental model, which brought together the innovations and improvements that were planned to be implemented in the Mi-24 model. Thus, the Mi-24 was not equipped with night vision devices, but they appeared in the Mi-28 helicopter, making it a combat vehicle capable of operating at any time of the day and in all weather conditions. Interestingly, it turned out to be much more difficult to spot the Mi-28 itself in the night sky than in daylight.

Competition with Shark

Since the Mi-28 and Ka-50 projects were created simultaneously, there was serious competition between their designers. The debut flight of the "Black Shark" took place in the summer of 1982, while the Mi-28 helicopter flew for the first time only in the fall. The reason for the delay was problems with the transmission, the refinement of which was the fact that the Mi-28 project began to lag behind the competitor.


Experimental sorties of the Mi-28 combat helicopter continued for three more years until 1985. They were carried out simultaneously with the tests of the Black Shark. As a result, the Soviet Ministry of Defense initially decided that Shark won the design competition, but the creators of the Night Hunter were not going to give up. Their trump card was that the Ka-50 was a single-seat helicopter, which was easier to control, but more difficult to conduct military operations. On one of the tests, the task of both helicopters was to detect several dozen targets. As a result, the Mi-28 "Night Hunter" found them all, while the "Shark" only one, which determined the further fate of the Mil helicopter.

Now the development of the Mi-28 combat vehicle project continues. In 2016, the first flight of the modern Mi-28NM, equipped with more advanced radar, aiming, navigation and radar systems, took place. Differing from the standard Mi-28 device, where the navigator in his cockpit is limited in his ability to control the machine, the modern Night Hunter model implements the principle of full-fledged piloting in both cockpits at once.

The Topic of Article: Soviet combat helicopter Mi-28 - hunter of the night sky.
Author: Jake Pinkman