Intense video shows the moment a Russian helicopter is downed by ISIS in Syria

The skies over Syria are quite dangerous.

On Jul. 9, a Russian Mi-35M helicopter was shot down by Daesh east of Palmyra the Russian MoD reported.

The gunship was flying a mission in support of the loyalist forces along with an Mi-24P Hind when it was hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashed into the ground killing the two crew members.

According to the latest reports, Daesh and rebels have grown their anti-aircraft capabilities by means of SAM (Surface to Air Missile) systems and MANPADS.

The Syrian regime has lost several aircraft due to anti-aircraft weaponry since the beginning of the uprising.


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Interesting. Worthy of note is that the AH-1G, when firing Mk.4/.40 rockets in SEA often had hangfires in the tube and would kick the back end into the tail rotor too. And because the blade loading was so high (due to munition weight and density altitude effects), the loss of the tail rotor was considered non-survivable.
    Comparatively, the period Huey, though it had the frontal area of a frying pan, -could- survive the loss of a TR on the basis of having airspeed above 60 knots. Into an LZ or circling it as a defense suppressor, not so much, forward flight as ‘aerial rocket artillery’…can do. Less blade loading, less commanded torque requirement. Lose the TR and you find a road and skid it in, at speed.
    The problems illustrated here are of course different and manifold. The Russians used to employ a ‘troika’ system with one high-trail helicopter coming in behind to suppress ground fire shot at a leading pair which were basically strafe machines on preplanned saturation runs to support objective seizures like river crossings but also in putting down Spetz or Desantnoye teams (on high LOS ridge crests with ATGM and Mortars) so the latter could observe and harass NATO armor moving up during breakout containments.
    Troika could be pretty dangerous in a ADV intensive environment but it had the major advantage of keeping everyone coordinated as the guy in back tracked the white-flash of the main rotor disks of the guys up front who simply flew hell for leather all out to get into the target and off it again.
    Again, this only works when you are a LONG ways out on the LOS line with Ataka or Vikhr and/or crossing the FLOT well down from the active combat area before cutting back in to set troops down. It worked in the GSFG environment, simply because everyone anticipated employing battalion level commitments of helos and losing same, every day.
    But this…this is just dumb. Repeated CAS passes with FFAR against a dusky skyline makes it easy for the threat to see you, backlighted, and VERY hard for your formation mates to keep positioning. Which is why APKWS and DAGR are so great. One Rocket, One Meter, 5km Out.
    If it was a Grouse or Grinch I have to wonder where the heck the flares were. I remember AfG modded Hinds flying with veritable Christmas trees of welded on auxiliary flare racks and at least a few also had a tail warner to cue the dispenser bucket.
    Against more modern SFPA threats, you really have to dump a lot of smoke trail kinematics _in a hurry_ to decoy the missile right as it transitions from blip to boost, out of the pipe (because you’re flying too slow to pull the seeker out of the tracking gate window otherwise). So if there was a launch and assuming the Mi-35 MES includes effective MAWS now, you should have seen a lot more EXCM launches.
    IMO, this highlights a simple fact of life: Helicopters are anachronisms. You can never leave the trashfire envelope and you can /never know/ (until they are fired) whether you are in a shoulder SAM environment.
    At best, even a hybrid compound like the AH-56 is only going to do about 250 knots and that’s just not fast enough to challenge a modern VSHORADS while the inability to take the fight up to 3-5,000ft (as we often did in Vietnam, to get away from _gun_ threats), inherent to using weapons like Griffin or Viper Strike as dropfire vs. rail-forward weapons (an excellent reason to have a cabin cruiser btw…:-) also cuts down on your reaction times and all but guarantees that you will be heads-in to the CAS circle while the threat can shoot back at you from outside your scan cone on _very_ little warning.
    Maybe there is a future for the (expensive, high maintenance) AAH vs. drones in Low-CAS environments but I confess I don’t see it. I would just as soon have an Mi-24K with the standoff artillery spotter 25cm scope or even a drone and call in RT from firebases. You get more shots as multiple outpost or unit night laager constant coverage within the gun arcs and you have less risk from stupid mistakes likes this (imagine having to go out and try to do a BHD body check in this situation, under fire).
    As is, Russia needs to come up with something like the combined MAWS/GFAS/DIRCM tip pods on the Dutch and British WAH-64s so that, if they insist on skylighting themselves like this, they can at least know _for sure_ that they have a high probability defeat mechanism for shoulder weapons. As far as stepping in front of someone else’ rocket run, well, that’s what training is about.
    Hitch up the sled and let the troika ride again!

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