A Russian Gunship Was Shot Down Over Armenia. What Happened?

December 16, 2020 Topic: Security Region: Eurasia Blog Brand: The Reboot Tags: ArmeniaArtsakhNagorno-Karabakh WarGunshipsRussian Air Force

A Russian Gunship Was Shot Down Over Armenia. What Happened?

The aircraft was approximately 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the border of Nagorno-Karabakh when it downed “in a gorge” near Yeraskh.

Here's What You Need To Remember: The Hind has a long operational service history - notably in Afghanistan, where it was used extensively against mujahideen insurgents during the Soviet-Afghan War.

It was reported recentlyly that a missile downed a Russian Mi-24 Hind military helicopter over Armenia, near the border with Azerbaijan. Two of the crew members were killed while a third was injured in the crash. The Russian aircraft was reportedly downed by a man-portable surface-to-air missile (MANPADS).

“On November 9, at about 17:30 Moscow time, a Russian Mi-24 helicopter came under fire from the ground from a man-portable air-defense system when accompanying a vehicle convoy of the 102nd Russian military base on the territory of the Republic of Armenia in the airspace close to the Armenian settlement of Yeraskh near the border with the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (the Republic of Azerbaijan),” read a statement from the Russian Defense Ministry.

On Monday afternoon, Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry apologized to Moscow and admitted its forces shot down the helicopter near the border region of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic by mistake. The BBC reported that Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry said the helicopter may have been flying at low altitude during hours of darkness.

“Helicopters of the Russian air force had not been previously sighted in the area,” the ministry said. Azerbaijan offered condolences to the families of those killed in the crash and offered to pay compensation.

The aircraft was approximately 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the border of Nagorno-Karabakh when it downed “in a gorge” near Yeraskh. TheAviationist described the area as being ideal for the use of small, man-portable air defense systems, even against heavily armored aircraft such as the Mi-24 Hind gunship.

The Soviet’s Flying Tank

The Mil Mi-24 (NATO reporting name Hind) was developed as a large helicopter gunship, attack helicopter but also as a low-capacity troop transport that provided room for eight passengers. It first flew in September 1969 and entered service in 1972.

Some fifty air forces and air arms have operated different variants of the infamous aircraft that earned the nickname “flying tank.” The Mi-24 was first used in combat during the Ogaden War (1977-78) when it was flown by Ethiopian forces against Somalia and was operated extensively during the Soviet-Afghan War (1979-1989) when it was used to bomb Mujahedeen fighters.

However, during the war in Afghanistan, the Hind proved vulnerable to U.S.-supplied heat-seeking Stinger missiles. According to Russian sources, some seventy-four Mi-24 Hind helicopters were lost, including twenty-seven shot down by Stinger missiles and two by Redeye missiles. Additional “flying tanks” were able to remain operational thanks to the armor and durability of construction even after taking hits from the rockets.

Ongoing Conflict

The current wave of fighting between the two former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan began on Sept. 27, when Azerbaijani forces moved into the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. The two nations have been fighting over this particular region since even before the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War.

The ceasefire agreement that brought an end to the initial fighting in 1994 resulted in the self-declared Armenian Republic of Artsakh maintaining power in the territory, but since that time there have numerous skirmishes and border conflicts.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com. This article first appeared last month.

Image: Reuters.