Ukraine uses Soviet-era helicopters to defeat Russia from afar

DONETSK REGION, Ukraine — Three Soviet-era attack helicopters soar over the treetops and crash into a field after an early morning mission to the front lines fighting the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Every day they can fly three or four missions, says the commander, whose two-crew Mi-24 helicopter, built about 40 years ago, is older than he is.

“We perform combat tasks to destroy enemy vehicles and enemy personnel, we work with pitch-up attacks from a distance where the enemy cannot reach us with their air defense system,” said the commander, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for operational reasons. safety, in accordance with military regulations.

The conflict in Ukraine is largely an artillery war, with territory fought inch by inch under a barrage of shells and missiles. But Ukraine’s aviation capabilities play an important role in the battle, the pilot said.

“The importance of the helicopters is huge,” said the commander, who is part of Ukraine’s 12th Aviation Brigade.

Footage from a camera attached to the helicopter during a recent combat mission shows it flying over cratered fields from artillery bombardment and firing missiles at Russian trenches that cut the landscape.

“We fire from a long distance and hit the target clearly, as if there is a cross on the target and (the missiles) go where they need to go by themselves,” said the commander.

He would like to fly with a newer model.

“We have to master something new, something from abroad,” said the commander. “It has better features. You can maneuver more on it, it has more missiles and the weapons are more powerful. We can perform more tasks with better quality and with less risk to us.”

Several countries, including the United States and Britain, have pledged, or have already done so, to send helicopters to Ukraine as part of military aid since the start of the war sparked by the Russian invasion in February 2022.

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