Interesting anti-missile tactic – sacrificial helicopters!

The Aviationist highlights a recent video from Russia, and points out that it’s a tactic they developed in Afghanistan that’s still in use.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has released an interesting video of an Il-76MD cargo aircraft landing on an unpaved runway located near Sol-Iletsk, Orenburg Region, during a technical support exercise (MTO) of the Russian Federation Armed Forces in the Central Military District.

. . .

What makes the video particularly interesting is the fact that the Il-76 was escorted by two Mi-24 helicopters during the landing and subsequent takeoff from the dirt strip runway, a tactic reminiscent of the operations conducted by the Mi-24V in the 1980s during the Soviet – Afghan war.

. . .

The threat posed by MANPADS to Soviet transport aircraft as well as Aeroflot liners used to transport personnel and material, imposed an addition to the array of missions flown by the “Hind” helicopters.

“Missions for the gunships included the notorious “Mandatory Matsurov”. Matsurov (an apparent misspelling of Matrosov, presumably during transliteration from Cyrillic to English text) was a hero of the Great Patriotic War, a young soldier who threw himself across a German machinegun emplacement so that his comrades could advance. The Hinds’ heroic contribution saw them escorting transport aircraft into and out of Afghan airfields to act as bait for MANPADS and to deploy Infra-Red Counter Measures (IRCMs) and gunfire to suppress and destroy the rebels’ attack.

If all else failed, the Hind crews were to fly their machines towards the missile to sacrifice themselves for the larger aircraft. Tellingly, for much of the conflict, Soviet transport aircraft lacked countermeasures, and Aeroflot civil aircraft, which were also used for the transport role, had none whatsoever.

There’s more at the link.

Here’s the video.

Interesting that they’re still training with a tactic developed the better part of forty years ago, at a time when countermeasures against MANPADS were relatively primitive.  They’ve improved immeasurably today from what was available at that time, so I’d have thought the helicopters would be superfluous by now . . . unless the Russians haven’t modernized their aircraft nearly as much as they should.  In that case, it must truly suck to be Mi-24 aircrew, knowing your life is officially considered less valuable than the cargo on board the aircraft you’re covering!



  1. The all-aspect Stingers are more difficult to deceive than the early models. They're based on a rolling airframe design and philosophy. The Russians would likely get a nasty surprise.

  2. The Mi-24 is also a flying tank.
    Think rotary wing Warthog.

    Missile hits it, hind crew sill has a pretty good shot at survival.

    The Antonov, OTOH, is a flaming fireball.

  3. The tactic is not far removed from the idea of putting a destroyer behind a carrier to protect the carrier from a wake-homing torpedo.
    Except that the destroyer will almost-certainly be lost.

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