Video Shows Ultra-Low Level Flying Russian Gunship Helicopter Shot Down In Ukraine

Screenshot from the video of the Mi-35M shot down in Ukraine.

The clip is a reminder that low-flying Russian helicopters are vulnerable to MANPADS (and ATGMs) in Ukraine.

A video, showing a Russian Mi-35M gunship helicopter shot down by an unspecified Ukrainian missile, possibly one fired by a MANPADS (Man-Portable Air Defense System), has started circulating online on Jun. 16, 2022.

The footage, that appears to have been recorded by a drone, shows the Russian helicopter flying at ultra-low level over the fields until it gets hit in the engine exhaust area (at the base of the main rotor), starts to spin and crashes into the ground.

The clip was geolocated: the Mi-35M was shot down in Donetsk Oblast, eastern Ukraine.

While it was possible to geolocate where the Russian gunship was shot down, it seems more difficult to determine which kind of missile was used, considered also the variety of systems in use in Ukraine (and the fact that some helicopters have been shot down using Anti-Tank Guided Missiles). Some sources claimed it was an Igla while others say it was a Stinger MANPADS.

Interestingly, the same footage, slowed down to 1/10 of the original speed clearly shows the missile coming from the left hand side of the frame, from slightly higher altitude.

Noteworthy, the lack of evident trailing smoke and the speed of the missile could also suggest the British Starstreak short-range man-portable air-defence system was used.

As reported in a previous post here at The Aviationist:

The Starstreak high-velocity missile system was supplied to Ukraine by Britain last month along with a further shipment of Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapons (NLAWs).

“STARStreak’s highly unique design significantly differentiates it from other SHORAD missiles”, says Thales website. “Designed and developed from first principals to engage fast, evasive or heavily armoured pop-up targets, all in a short timeframe, the system is required to travel at exceptionally high speed. Simultaneously, it has to be small and light enough to be man portable on the battlefield where it may increasingly need to be deployed in urban environments.”

“The missile itself comprises three tungsten darts, released from a carrier which is powered by a rocket motor. The darts are accelerated to a speed in excess of Mach 3.0 and the fire control system’s laser beam riding guidance ensures exceptional accuracy whilst being almost totally resistant to countermeasures.
These unique characteristics and the exceptional speed of STARStreak pose a significant challenge to adversary pilots who are unlikely to have sufficient time to react once an engagement begins. This, in conjunction with the inability to jam the missile, has a huge impact on the human consciousness of pilots and a highly disruptive effect on mission planning and execution.”

Whatever type of missile was used to shoot down the Mi-35M, the video (that is strikingly similar to another one we posted at the beginning of the war) is a stark reminder that choppers flying low to exploit terrain masking or to avoid radar detection are extremely vulnerable to the Ukrainian MANPADS (and ATGMs) in Ukraine, even when they operate in Russian controlled areas.

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.