Russian Ka-52 Shot Down With Piorun MANPADS


Spokesman for the Ukrainian 95th Air Assault Brigade, Yuri Kochevenko stated, via his Twitter account, that a modern Russian Ka-52 helicopter was shot down. This was confirmed by the command of the Ukrainian airborne component. This incident is not a surprise, given the losses that the Russians keep on sustaining. Nonetheless, it has been claimed that the aircraft downing involved the use of the Polish PZPR Piorun MANPADS.

The event took place on 11th May, in the Izium area. The Polish systems were sent to Ukraine between February and March, within the framework of the provision of military aid for Kyiv from Poland. The rumours suggest that the Polish MANPADS launchers were involved in the downing of numerous Russian aircraft. Many of those remain unconfirmed though. Stinger or post-Soviet Igla MANPADS are also said to be used in this context. A Su-25 shot down by the Ukrainian National Guard is reportedly the first aircraft that has been downed with the Piorun missile. Later, the list also included a modern Su-34 frontline bomber and Mi-24/35 helicopter. The Ka-52 is yet another aircraft that the Polish system has been able to neutralize.

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Euromaidan website and other Ukrainian sources have confirmed the information on the downing of the Ka-52. The release is interesting, as it mentions the use of the Piorun MANPADS used by an airborne unit. The system is considered to be the best in its class now. The airborne units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces belong to its regular, elite elements.

Photographs of the helicopter are being circulated on the Internet - it has been armed with unguided missiles and ATGMs.

The Ka-52 is one of the three types of attack helicopters the Russians operate - alongside the Mi-24/35 and Mi-28. The Russian Armed Forces have been operating 116 helicopters as such in early 2022. At least 14 have been lost in Ukraine (the incident discussed here included), amounting to losses of more than 12%. The number of lost Ka-52s may be much higher, considering the Ukrainian estimates that mention losses a couple of times higher than those visually confirmed.

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Piorun MANPADS has been developed as a result of a development study launched in 2010, by a consortium formed by Mesko S.A., CRW Telesystem-Mesko, and the Military University of Technology. The main goal was to develop a new MANPADS, via an upgrade of the existing Grom system. The development of the new design was finalized in 2015, while the public unveiling took place during the 24th edition of the MSPO event in Kielce, in 2016. Back then, the system also received a Presidential award. In December 2016 the Polish Ministry of Defence signed a contract, concerning the delivery of 420 launch systems and 1300 missiles for the Polish Armed Forces, with a delivery deadline set in 2022.

The missile is IR-guided and it can be used against a myriad of airborne threats, at night and during the day, at a distance of up to 6,500 meters, flying at altitudes ranging from 10 to 4,000 meters. When Piorun was being designed, the main goal was to increase the range and altitude at which targets could be detected and destroyed. Expansion of the performance envelope was expected, in comparison to the Piorun’s predecessor - the Grom MANPADS.

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The seeker was also modernized, with a new detector, new guidance algorithms, and a proximity fuse. The warhead, launch motor, and coolant were also subjected to modifications. The detection gain, range, and effective range have been increased. The missile is also more resistant to any disruption or countermeasures.

The launch mechanism now works with the aiming system and features a target type switch that allows the user to select the guidance algorithm to match the threat. New observation instruments have been installed on a special purpose mount, and the launch system also features a new battery compartment and a new launch authorization solution. The Piorun missiles may be launched with the use of portable launch systems, or Pilica SAM systems operated by the Air Force, in the role of land-based air defence assets. Piorun may also be launched from the Poprad VSHORAD system, operated by all of the Army divisions. A small lot of Piorun systems has also been procured by the United States.