Upgraded Mil Mi-28NE Unveiled
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Upgraded Mil Mi-28NE Unveiled

By IndraStra Global News Team

Image Attribute:  An upgraded variant of the Mi-28NE Night Hunter combat helicopter at the Army 2018 defense show in Kubinka near Moscow. / Source: Dr. Nikolai Novichkov

Image Attribute:  An upgraded variant of the Mi-28NE Night Hunter combat helicopter at the Army 2018 defense show in Kubinka near Moscow. / Source: Dr. Nikolai Novichkov

On August 17, 2018, Rostvertol of Russian Helicopters Group (a part of Rostec) showcased upgraded Mil Mi-28NE "Night Hunter" combat helicopter at the Army-2018 International Military and Technical Forum

The Mi-28NE is designed to perform the following missions: attack, reconnaissance and attacksurveillance; armed air escort; precision strikes; fire support, and ensuring security in urban areas. It is an export variant of the Mi-28N helicopter.

In June 2018, the helicopter (and it's simulation center, manufacturing facilities, and logistics supply center) was revealed to a Brazilian military delegation during latter's visit to Russia for evaluating "Night Hunter" as one of the possible options for the procurement of new combat helicopters for Brazilian Army's Aviation Command (CAvEx).

The Engines, Rotors, and etc.

Performance Specifications of the Mil Mi-28NE "Night Hunter"
Performance Specifications of the Mil Mi-28NE "Night Hunter"

*/**: Earlier this year, the engines VK-2500-03 passed a battery of tests in the mountains of Tibet and eventually, got validated and certified by China for its fleet of Mi-17/171. However, Mi-28NE's are using two VK-2500-02 engines which have been claimed to be modernized along with its rotor blades to increase their capacity and improve the chopper’s performance in high mountainous terrain and in a hot climate. And, it's not confirmed yet, whether VK-2500-02 has gone through similar testing like VK-2500-03 in Tibet. As per the company's statement, the latest upgrade package has increased the helicopter’s cruising speed and expanded its capabilities for performing aerobatic maneuvers (The values are the assumptions/The actual performance values are not revealed by the manufacturer, yet).

The Mi-28NE is equipped with two Klimov VK-2500-02 turbo-shaft engines, which are derived from Ukrainian TV3-117 series. The localization of the entire VK-2500 production cycle was initiated in the aftermath of the Ukrainian conflict in a bid to make up for the unavailability of some components previously sourced from Ukraine's Motor Sich JSC. Each engine delivers 2,200hp in takeoff mode. They are installed externally on the fuselage in engine bays and a side axle connects the engines' shafts to the main gearbox case. It has an integrated automatic control system (ACS) with an advanced BARK-78 electronic unit for automatic adjustment and control (instead of an analog ACS).

Image Attribute: VK-2500 Engine / Source: JSC "Klimov" — United Engine Corporation
Image Attribute: VK-2500 Engine / Source: JSC "Klimov" — United Engine Corporation

Principal Specifications of the VK-2500-02 Engine
Principal Specifications of the VK-2500-02 Engine
Principal Specifications of the BARK-78
Principal Specifications of the BARK-78

This propulsion system is also composed of the following equipment: Ivchenko AI-9V auxiliary power unit (APU); lubrication system; engine air particle separator and exhaust heat shield. The internal fuel capacity amounts to 1,317 kg of aviation kerosene, which, under conditions of maximum continuous power, allows two-hour flight autonomy.

Image Attribute: Ivchenko AI-9V auxiliary power unit (APU) - It is a variant of the base model AI-9 that is used to supply compressed air to air-start systems and air conditioning. It also supplies electricity to on-board electrical systems / Source: VargaA, Wikimedia Commons

Image Attribute: Ivchenko AI-9V auxiliary power unit (APU) - It is a variant of the base model AI-9 that is used to supply compressed air to air-start systems and air conditioning. It also supplies electricity to onboard electrical systems / Source: VargaA, Wikimedia Commons

The main rotor of the helicopter has five blades with an asymmetrical airfoil, its tail section and spar are made of composite material.  Blades are capable of resisting the impact of projectiles even greater than 20mm.

The main rotor hub consists of a case made of titanium, elastomeric bearings, dampers and pitch control levers. The main rotor's elastomeric bearings perform the function of three joints and above its hub, the helicopter's mission radar (N-025E airborne radar, discussed in the later part of this article) is installed. The blades' oscillation is damped by hydraulic dampers that have resilient rubber elements at the joint assembly. The X-shaped tail rotor is also three-hinged, equipped with elastomeric bearings, which allow the movements of the blade within the plane of rotation. Its design and location are intended to reduce noise and increase the efficiency of helicopter control.

The Cockpit(s)

There are two tandem seats in stepped-up cockpits configuration, rear seat for pilot-in-command and front seat for pilot-cum-weapon systems operator (WSO). The pilot’s station is located in the rear cockpit. The information is transmitted to him by means of two Multi-functional Display (MFD), by analog indicators and an NSTsI-V helmet-mounted target designation and display gear (HUD — Head-Up Display). Information is passed (or exchanged within) to the pilots through MFDs, and all are compatible with Night Vision Goggles (NVG), classes A and B.

The automatic pilot, or Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS), has two major modes of operation: full 4-axis control and stability augmentation system (SAS). The first allows long-term stabilization for a "hands-off" flight situation and can be coupled with the director control. SAS already provides short-term vibration control for hands-off flights.

Both cockpits are fully pressurized and sealed by a system, allowing their use in chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear warfare environments; having a system for flight in high altitudes constituted by an oxygen generator set and mask with the capacity to provide one hour of flight in these conditions. Also, both the cockpits are fitted with shock-absorbing seats and a parachute escape system for a crew of two. The portside and starboard cockpit doors and wing panels are installed with an emergency jettisoning system. The cockpit's windshield can withstand impact by 12.7 mm bullets, while the overall cockpit itself able to withstand 20mm shell fragments.

The Weapon Systems

There are two weapons-carriage wing panels (suspension units) on both sides of the fuselage, on which weapons or auxiliary fuel tanks can be mounted. Each wing has two hard points for 500kg each, meaning that each wing is capable of carrying 1,000kg of equipment and/or armament. The upgraded "Night Hunter" is armed with new 9M123F-series Khrizantema anti-tank missiles and the two-channel guidance system. These missiles will make it possible to increase the range of striking the armor to 10 km. The helicopter is also furnished with modernized 9M120-series Ataka laser-guided missiles (incl. 9A2200 airborne version) and features a possibility to use air bombs with a weight of up to 500 kg. Other ordnance: 9K118 Sheksna LASER beam-riding anti-tank missile, 8 Igla-V air-to-air missiles, Vympel R-73 air-to-air missiles, 2 KMGU-2 mine dispensers

The helicopter's standard armament includes NPPU-280-1 rapid-fire single-barrel 30 mm gun, model Shipunov 2A42, on the turret. The UOMZ TOES-521 Forward-looking infrared (FLIR) camera and Ramenskoye PKB automated thermal imaging (ATT) system controlled by the pilot in the rear cabin gives the ability to select and send several types of targets to the WSO. The WSO has the OPS-28 Thor night-vision suite which integrates the target sight system, a target selection system, threat sensor and IR camera, which is in sync with the pilot's TOES-521 system.

Also, according to the company's press office - "the new Mi-28NE is provided with an option to interact with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and control them remotely, for which purpose the helicopter is equipped with special communications systems."

Image Attribute: NPPU-280-1 rapid-fire single-barrel 30 mm gun, model 2A42, on a turret of a Mi-28.

Image Attribute: NPPU-280-1 rapid-fire single-barrel 30 mm gun, model Shipunov 2A42, on a turret of a Mi-28.

The Radar Systems

The helicopter carries the export-oriented N-025E  an all-weather, Ka-band airborne radar supplied by the Ryazan-based GRPZ (a member in KRET corporation), which is installed above the main rotor hub and can operate in the following modes: ground surveillance, detection of obstacles during flights at low altitude and the combination of these two modes. The radar was unveiled at HeliRussia 2018 exhibition on May 24-26 in Moscow.

The capabilities of this radar system are as follows: standard or continuous scanning; micro plan mode (mapping); an indication of azimuth and distance to targets; selection and automatic tracking of targets. The radar can perform simultaneous tracking of up to four ground or air target at ranges of up to 20 km. It has a traverse angle of 180° and a field of view of -25° to +15°, and searches for ground targets in a 90° sector with a deflection angle of 35°.

Image Attribute: The export-oriented N-025E mast-mounted radar was unveiled at HeliRussia 2018. / Source: Dr. Nikolai Novichkov

For protection and countermeasures, there is a Laser Warning Receiver, L-140E, which detects laser emitting from ground or in air, "illuminating" the helicopter dashboard, and identifies the type of threat (missile or rangefinder), elevation angle, azimuth angle in relation to the helicopter in a sector of 15º and provides information about the type of armament that is illuminating. Also, there is a PRGS-L-150-28E Airborne Multifunctional, Radar Warning, Targeting and Control System which performs the identification of enemy's radio-electronic weapon control systems in the operational vicinity, has an active recognition and indication system that informs the direction and type of the radar emission and prioritize target threats. Also, the system measures the frequencies of received signals and identifies the type of emitting radar. The helicopter also two pods on the wingtips with flare and chaff countermeasure dispensers — 4 UV-26 dispensers each (total 512 chaff/flare cartridges in each pod).

Current Export Orders (Delivered/Confirmed/Delivery-on-Schedule):

1. Algeria: Ordered - 42 / Delivered: 42

2. Iraq: Ordered - 40 / Delivered:  17

Under Evaluation by:

1. Brazil

2. Thailand

DISCLAIMER: All actual statements and figures have been sourced and analyzed from publicly available information such as Annual Reports, News Briefings, and Press Releases.