Russian Navy Ka-29 attack helicopter shot down in massive Ukrainian drone strike

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A Russian Navy Ka-29 Helix-B attack helicopter was shot down near the Russian Black Sea resort of Anapa. It was hit in what Russian and Ukrainian military officials said was a large-scale Ukrainian drone strike from Thursday to Friday on Crimea and the neighboring Russian region of Krasnodar, where Anapa is located. Russian and Ukrainian Telegram channels agreed that the helicopter was shot down, but give different accounts of how. It would be the first known loss of a Helix, a heavily armed helicopter with several gun pods, missile pods, provisions for an external cannon and a rotating machine gun in the nose. The Helix family can also provide door guns for drone hunting. A 2017 photo of a Russian Navy Ka-29 Helix_B attack helicopter. Alan Wilson, Wikimedia Commons An influential Russian source claims that the Helix was disabled by friendly fire during a search for Ukrainian unmanned surface vessels (USVs). Another said the attack came amid a massive air and USV strike that killed nearly 30 Russian troops in occupied Crimea and Krasnodar. “In Anapa, our own air defense shot down our own helicopter,” wrote the Thirteenth Telegram channel, run by Russian soldier and mil blogger Egor Guzenko. During the attack on Ukrainian drone boats in the Black Sea, “one of our (Pantsir air defense systems) hit the helicopter,” the Thirteenth wrote, adding that four Russian troops were killed in the incident. Preliminary information suggested this was “due to a glitch in the ‘friend or foe’ system,” he suggested. “I will not release any versions, let the counterintelligence and investigations sort it out. Eternal memory of our soldiers.” The War Zone cannot independently confirm this. Several Russian channels report that a Russian Ka-29 has been destroyed. They claim that during its operation against Ukrainian USVs, the Russian helicopter was targeted by a malfunctioning Pantsir air defense system, which the IFF deemed hostile and shot it down. The crew is believed to be… pic.twitter.com/wHhG2nvU5i— (((Tendar))) (@Tendar) June 21, 2024 Other Russian Telegram channels also reported that the helicopter had been downed, but did not indicate the cause. “The incident coincided (during) a night attack by Ukrainian kamikaze UAVs and unmanned boats, in the destruction of which these helicopters were actively involved,” wrote Russia’s Military Observer Telegram channel. “Sources also confirm the loss of the Ka-29 helicopter,” the Kremlin Snuff Box wrote. ‘We won’t say who hit him. But we hope that this situation will not arise again. At the same time, we once again call on the Ministry of Defense: strengthen our air defense! Now the enemy has new regions not only in Crimea where he is launching large-scale attacks.” A Ukrainian Telegram channel suggested that the Helix was shot out of the sky by a Ukrainian USV armed with an infrared-guided R-73 (AA-11 Archer) short-range air-to-air missile. The Ka-29 “could very well have been intercepted” by an anti-aircraft modification of the R93 missile mounted on the USV,” the Ukrainian VRB news channel postulated, without evidence, on its Telegram channel. “It is clear that the Russians engaged USVs from a distance of less than 3 km and were directly within range of the R-73RDM-2 missiles.” The War Zone could not independently confirm that theory either. We first reported on Ukraine linking the weapon to its drone boat in May in a story about a Helix attacking one. You can watch a video of that meeting below. Footage of a Russian Ka-29 helicopter attacking the Ukrainian USV with R-73 air-to-air heat-seeking missiles. pic.twitter.com/E6zGjmCbuv — Clash Report (@clashreport) May 6, 2024 Neither Russian nor Ukrainian officials have yet commented on the downing of the Ka-29. Ukrainian Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Defense Intelligence Directorate, declined comment. However, if the claim of the drone boat-launched R-73 missile is true, it would be the first successful downing of a Russian aviation asset by such a system. It would also be Russia’s first known Helix loss. The open-source tracking group Oryx has yet to add the helicopter to the list of Russian combat losses, but only provides a table of losses they can visually confirm. As of noon Eastern Time, there were no Ka-29s on that list. The shooting down of a Russian Navy Ka-29 Helix-B attack helicopter, like the one in this phone, is the first known loss of this kind. Alan Wilson, Wikimedia Commons However the helicopter was downed, it appears there was a lot of confusion during the battle. It was caused by a new Ukrainian tactic of using aerial drones in combination with naval drones in a complex, multi-layered attack in an attempt to confuse Russian defenses, according to the Russian Aerospace Forces-affiliated Fighterbomber Telegram -channel. “To fight (USVs)” you must raise helicopters; to fight hundreds of UAVs, you have to destroy aerial targets. And one doesn’t go well with the other,” Fighterbomber explained. “These tactics were expected,” Fighter-Bomber continued. “For a year and a half, (Ukrainians) have been hitting the ground with missiles the moment our frontline aviation enters the launch/drop zone. There, in the same way, an excess of channels is artificially created with the hope of an error and less efficiency and freedom of action for air defense operations.” Fighter-bomber then took what appears to be a sarcastic, backhanded swipe at Russian air defenses, citing the friendly fire theory. “Of course it is very good that we have a reliable ‘friend or foe’ system, which precludes shooting at our own system,” Fighter Bomber chided. “It sucks that she’s not in Laos.” Budanov confirmed that Ukraine is using the new tactic, but said it was “experimental.” He declined to elaborate further. Fighter bomber also says Ukraine is using UAVs with its naval drones, causing problems as Russia combats naval drones with helicopters and increasing the risk of friendly fire from Russian air defenses. He says Ukraine will also launch missiles/missiles if Russia attacks… pic.twitter.com/ycjSGg84DT — Rob Lee (@RALee85) June 21, 2024 We regularly discuss how layering unmanned craft or multi-domain missile attacks could increase hostilities can be enormously burdensome and complicate. defense. This would be a textbook example of this if the tactic was indeed used as described. All this happened during what Russian and Ukrainian military officials said was a large-scale Ukrainian aerial drone attack. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed it had thwarted an attack by more than 100 air drones and additional sea drones. “Last night, an attempt by the Kiev regime to carry out a terrorist attack using unmanned boats and aircraft-type unmanned aircraft on objects on the territory of the Russian Federation was stopped,” the Defense Ministry claimed. “Air defense systems intercepted and destroyed 70 UAVs over the territory of the Republic of Crimea and over the Black Sea, 43 UAVs over the territory of the Krasnodar Territory and one UAV over the territory of the Volgograd region,” the Defense Ministry said. “In the northwestern part of the Black Sea, the naval aviation of the Russian Black Sea Fleet destroyed six unmanned boats of the Ukrainian Navy.” Russian and Ukrainian military officials say several areas in the Krasnodar region were targeted by Ukrainian drones. Google Earth image While Russia claims to have destroyed all drones, Kremlin Snuff Box said some drones have broken through defenses with deadly consequences. “The enemy cunningly and viciously attacked Russia with drones,” Kremlin Box complained. “Some drones launched by the enemy on the night of Friday, June 21, unfortunately broke through our air defenses. There are deaths among the army.” “In total we have 28 dead soldiers in various facilities in Crimea and Krasnodar Territory,” Kremlin Snuff Box claimed. “The attack was too large-scale and it was not possible to completely repel it. Losses were especially severe at a factory near Yeysk and in several other areas. The enemy’s attack this time was very sneaky – many drones flew along a difficult route,” said our source at the Ministry of Defense.” “We will not reveal exactly where the enemy drones are hitting,” Kremlin Snuff Box continued. “Let us just note that among the dead there were very valuable specialists. Some of them played an important role in attacks on enemy territory, including military infrastructure in the Ukrainian hinterland.” However, Yeysk Airfield is home to a major tactical jet forward operations base, including Sukhoi Su-34 Fullbacks, and nearby Russian training facilities. Claims have emerged that it was hit during the attack. Visual evidence and NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) indicate an attack nearby, but not on the base itself. Later satellite images taken today show there was a fire to the west of the base, consistent with company data. FIRMS data appears to confirm that the adjacent 726th Air Defense Training Center is on fire. pic.twitter.com/PdCQauP0sl— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) June 21, 2024 A satellite image of the burned field area that was set on fire last night west of the air base. (Planet Labs) The Ukrainian General Staff said aerial drones attacked two oil refineries in Krasnodar, as well as “temporarily occupied radar stations and radio-electronic intelligence centers of the Russian invaders in the Bryansk region (of Russia) and Crimea.” Ukrainian Armed Forces “also carried out a successful attack on the warehouses and preparations for the use of ‘Shahed-136/Geran-2’ (drones), training buildings, control and communication points of these UAVs in the Krasnodar Territory. According to the results of the combat work, a series of explosions and a fire followed by explosion were recorded.” The armed forces “continue to take all measures to undermine the military and economic potential of the Russian occupiers and to stop Russian armed aggression against Ukraine,” the General Staff concluded. This is the latest example of Ukraine amassing drones in an attempt to overwhelm Russian air defenses en route to their targets. Last week, Budanov told us that about 70 drones were used to attack the Morosovsk air base in Rostov Oblast. That attack damaged at least two full-backs. That one Friday covered a much larger area and appears to have a multi-domain character. It also resulted in more claimed damages and loss of life. What is perfectly clear is that Ukraine is heavily focused on expanding the magnetic power and frequency of its long-range drone attacks, which are becoming increasingly difficult for Russia to defend against. Contact the author: howard@thewarzone.com



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