Ever since the Mi-24 Hind has entered service in early 1970’s, the Soviet high command was working on surpassing its abilities and keeping the upper hand to NATO helicopters. The first answer to that challenge was given in the early 1980’s and the Mi-28 was born.
Although the first Mi-28Aprototypes were ready for testing in the early 1980’s, the development of this attack helicopter lasted for over two decades. The initial variant has proven to be insufficient and its direct adversary AH-64 was overall a better tank destroyer. Due to the breakup of the Soviet Union and a poor financial situation in Russian armed forces during 1990’s, the entire project was halted and the new main attack helicopter of the Russian army was to be Ka-50. Still, after the economic recuperation the Mi-28 project was revived and revamped to meet the requirements of the modern warfare. The first Mi-28N all-weather attack helicopter prototype was constructed in 1995 and it started entering the service in 2009. The further development of the 5th generation helicopter based on Mi-28 named Mi-28NM is under way and the first prototype is expected in 2017.
The main armament of the Mi-28N consists of a Shipunov 2A42 30 mm gun and the set of various rockets. The Standard setup includes 2×4 Ataka anti-tank rockets and 2 launchers for unguided rockets. The Ataka missiles come in three different options and they are capable of taking out any tank and fortification on the battlefield. Also, these missiles have the capability to engage other helicopters on the battlefield. Standard payload of unguided rockets consists of 40 S-8 or 10 S-13 rockets. There is also an option of mounting two 23 mm guns in containers instead of the unguided rockets. The other weapons are also compatible with the Mi-28N and the arsenal it can carry is quite enough to cover any potential target.
Concerning protection, the Mi-28N is heavily armored for a helicopter and it can withstand hits from the machine guns of 14.5 mm caliber. The additional protection is the eject seat and it is the first helicopter that has such option. During one crash of Mi-28N that has happened until now one pilot has died while the other has survived.
The fire control system incorporated into this helicopter allows actions against ground targets during day or night and in any weather conditions and in this segment it isn’t falling back to any other western counterpart.
Mi-28N is powered by two Klimov TV3-117 of 2194 hp or VK2500 of 2700hp and that allows it to perform all its task easily and with no strain. All in all, this is one of the most feared machines in the west and it will be in following years a backbone of the Russian helicopter forces, along with the Ka-52.