Elderly Ukrainian helicopters pummel Russians from afar

DONETSK REGION, Ukraine (AP) — Skimming the treetops, three Soviet-era assault helicopters financial institution and swoop down on a area after an early-morning mission to the entrance strains within the combat in opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Every day, they could fly three or 4 sorties, says the commander, whose two-crew Mi-24 helicopter, constructed about 40 years in the past, is older than he’s.

“We’re finishing up fight duties to destroy enemy autos, enemy personnel, we’re working with pitch-up assaults from a distance from the place the enemy can’t get us with their air protection system,” mentioned the commander, who spoke on situation of anonymity for operational safety causes, in step with navy laws.

The battle in Ukraine is basically an artillery struggle, with territory being fought for inch by inch beneath a barrage of shells and missiles. However Ukraine’s aviation capabilities play a big position within the combat, the pilot mentioned.

“The significance of the helicopters is big,” mentioned the commander, who’s a part of Ukraine’s twelfth Military Aviation Brigade.

Footage from a digicam connected to the helicopter throughout a current fight mission reveals it flying over fields pockmarked with craters from artillery bombing, and firing missiles at Russian trenches that reduce by means of the panorama.

“We’re taking pictures from the large distance and hit the goal clearly, like there’s a cross on the goal and (the missiles) go by themselves the place they need to go,” the commander mentioned.

He would, nonetheless, prefer to fly a more recent mannequin.

“We have to grasp one thing new, one thing from overseas,” the commander mentioned. “It has higher traits. You may maneuver extra on it, there are extra rockets on it and the weapons are extra highly effective. We are able to do extra duties with higher high quality and with much less danger for us.”

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A number of nations, together with the US and Britain, have pledged to ship, or have already despatched, helicopters to Ukraine as a part of navy help for the reason that begin of the struggle sparked by Russia’s invasion in Feb 2022.