The Mi-24V helicopters have started operating over eastern Ukraine, lobbing rockets, as done by other assets operating in the theatre.
As we reported a couple of weeks ago, two Mi-24V Hind attack helicopters, donated by the Czech Republic to Ukraine as part of “package” that includes also weapons and tanks, have been already delivered to their new operator. And, according to footage that has appeared on social media recently, at least one of them has also started operating over the eastern part of the country, supporting the Ukrainian Army.
The identification of the helicopter is made easy by the fact that the aircraft are still wearing their original Czech camouflage, with large Ukrainian flags on the fuselage that are also covering the markings of the Czech Air Force. The choppers also received the white bands on the tail boom as the other helicopters already in service in Ukraine.
According to Czech media, the first two helicopters were taken directly from the flight lines instead of being taken from storage. In fact, the helicopters have been identified with the serials #3370 and #7353, which correspond to the newer batch of Mi-24V/Mi-35 received by the Czech Air Force between 2003 and 2005 as part of the repayment of the Russian debt towards the country. The helicopters were also reportedly recently overhauled.
The one seen in recent footage [someone stated it’s DCS footage, but after multiple verifications, it appears to be genuine] should be #3362, an airframe that reportedly were being prepared for transfer to Ukrainian Army Aviation.
Verified: a Czech-supplied (and Russian-made) Mi-35 attack helicopter seen for the first time in action over #Ukraine.
Thanks to tiny details in camo, I managed to confirm this as former CZAF #3362, made in 2004 and very recently completely overhauled. #OSINT@UAWeapons @DefMon3 https://t.co/K5JVggtHCD
— Honza Beránek (@JTBcz) July 24, 2022
Interestingly, the video that is making the rounds across the social network show the Ukrainian helicopter using the same tactic as the Russian Aerospace Forces Ka-52 and Mi-28 Havoc helicopters (and Su-25 Frogfoot attack jets) have been using since the beginning of the war: the helicopters fly at low level then pull up into steep climb, and launch the rockets at the top of the parabolic arc of their flightpath, sending them downrange, then they break hard left and escape fast at low altitude again to remain outside of man portable air defense systems’ kill zone.
As often explained (commenting videos of Russian helicopters hit by MANPADS after using this kind of loft attack), lobbing the rockets in the air turns the helicopters into airborne MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) launchers: the range of the rockets is extended but the tactic is far from accurate, and could only be effectively employed against soft area targets that do not require accuracy or be used to put psychological pressure on the enemy. At the same time, this attack profile allows the gunships to attack their area targets from longer distance while remaining outside the range of the MANPADS.