Army 2019

The International Military-Technical Forum Army 2019 took place at three locations around the town of Kubinka near Moscow between June 25 and 30. Piotr Butowski filed this report

MiG-29SMT RF-92311 during a demo at Kubinka.
All images Piotr Butowski

ON JUNE 27, in the presence of President Vladimir Putin, the Russian Ministry of Defence placed 46 orders for weapons for a value exceeding RUB 1 trillion. Aviation orders placed included one with Sukhoi for 76 new-generation Su-57 fighters to be delivered by the end of 2027, while the Russian Helicopters corporation received orders for 98 Mi-28NM attack helicopters (delivered 2020–2027) and ten Mi-8AMTSh-VN (delivered 2020–2021). None of these types was displayed at the show.

The Su-57 order was announced by Vladimir Putin a few weeks earlier during a conference in Sochi on May 15. He said: “We need to fully re-equip three Aerospace Force air regiments with the Su- 57 fifth-generation advanced air system by 2028.”

This large order will certainly help to perfect this new platform (which cannot be done with the ten prototypes alone), which may become the platform to be equipped with new technologies, as well as Russia’s primary aviation export product for several decades to come.

Hind improvements

The Rostvertol plant presented two further variants of the Mi-35 attack and troop transport helicopters. The first, is a standard Mi-35 armed with 9M127-1 Vikhr-1 (AT-16 Scallion) and 9M120-1 Ataka-VM laser-guided anti-tank missiles.

The standard OPS-24N surveillance and targeting system is replaced on the Vikhr and new Ataka with the OPS-24N-1L fitted with an additional laser guidance channel.

Demonstrator Mi-35M 2302 was once again fitted with an extended wing, because the original Mi-35M wing was previously shortened by comparison to the standard Mi-24. Fairings housing L370-2 ultraviolet warning sensors, part of the L370 Vitebsk self-defence system, were mounted on the wingtips. On production Mi- 35Ms, these sensors are housed in four large pods side-mounted on the fuselage and tail boom. The other new variant, officially designated Mi-35P and unofficially called the Mi-35P+ or Phoenix, is an upgraded version off ered to current Mi-24 operators. Retaining the existing airframe, the Phoenix was retrofitted with new systems and weapons used by the Mi-35M.

Mi-35 1108 was fitted with an OPS-24N-1L EO targeting system, Vikhr-1 anti-tank missiles and L370-2 UV warning sensors housed in wingtip fairings, similar to the Mi- 35M parked nearby.

Unmanned air vehicles

The Korsar (Pirate) tactical UAV made by the KB Lutch design team in Rybinsk, part of the Vega Corporation, was previously showed on a parade in Moscow on May 9, 2018. At Army 2019, the Korsar was on show at close quarters. The novelty of the display was the air vehicle had mission equipment on display; a radar was fitted on the actual air vehicle and an electrooptical sensor was on the model.

Its characteristics were also given for the first time. The Korsar has completed state evaluation and will enter production at a new facility in Rybinsk; with a target production rate of 100 per year. Korsar was previously tested in Syria.

Even more interesting than the Korsar was a flying model of the Okhotnik combat unmanned aircraft, a model intended for preliminary aerodynamicand flight control testing. The model’s dimensions (wingspan approximately 3m/10ft) were determined by the thrust of available jet engine. The full-scale Sukhoi S-70B UAV demonstrator, developed under the Okhotnik-B programme, has been based at the Russian Ministry of Defence’s Akhtubinsk evaluation centre since January. It was delivered to Akhtubinsk by an An-124 transport aircraft from the Novosibirsk facility where it was made. Between November 2018 and January 2019, the S-70B conducted taxiing tests on the Novosibirsk runway, and the maiden flight is expected in the coming months.

Mi-38T 38015 configured for the transport role on its public debut in one of the hangars at Kubinka.
The Korsar unmanned air vehicle and a flying model of the Okhotnik combat unmanned aircraft.
Be-200 RA-21512 was at Kubinka, a reminder perhaps that the Russian Ministry of Defence has ordered three such amphibians with the first delivery expected later this year.
Assembled at the Ural Works of Civil Aviation (UWCA) in Yekaterinburg, DA42T RF-68502 attended Army 2019, the aircraft is based at Balashov.

The ZALA Aero Company, part of the Kalashnikov Corporation showed its Lancet loitering munition. In operation since 2004, ZALA has delivered more than 1,000 small drones (those weighing up to 10kg/22lb) in Russia, mainly for the Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Emergencies; the Ministry of Defence makes purchases from other manufacturers. Lancet has a long fuselage and two narrow, cruciform wings. The forward fuselage houses an electro-optical camera with a downlink capability to the operator’s station up to 40km (22 nautical miles) away and the aft fuselage houses an electric motor with a pusher propeller.

Two sizes of Lancet drones are available; Lancet-1 weighing 5kg (11lb) and Lancet-3 weighing 12kg (26lb). Both reach a maximum speed of 80kts (110km/h). Lancet-1 can loiter for up to 30 minutes with 1kg (2.2lb) payload, while the larger Lancet-3 offers 40 minutes with 3kg (6.6lb) payload.

Military Mi-38Ts

On display in one of the hangars at Kubinka were two different types of helicopter: a Ka-52 (claimed to be an improved version based on experience gained from Russia’s Syrian campaign, but no differences from the baseline version were evident), and Mi-38T 38015 configured for the transport role, which was on its public debut.

Mil’s Mi-38 has a long history. The programme was launched in 1983, but a prototype did not make the type’s maiden flight until 2003. The second prototype lifted off for the first time in 2010, the third in 2013, and the fourth in 2014.

Finding a niche market for the Mi-38 is where the type’s future rests. Initially, the Mi-38 was planned to be the direct successor to the Mi-8 family, but extensive modernisation of the Mi-8 has extended its appeal. So far no commercial order has been placed for the Mi-38. The only Mi-38 client to date is the Russian Ministry of Defence, which placed the first order in July 2017 for two Mi-38Ts, a variant capable of transporting 40 troops.

The first Mi-38T 38015 (the fifth built), which lifted off on November 3, 2018, and completed a full-profile flight on November 23, was the example presented at Army 2019.

The fact is, the Ministry of Defence does not need any Mi-38s for transport duties, because new Mi-8s are more than adequate. In the future it’s highly likely that the military will opt to use the Mi-38 for other applications, particularly special purpose versions.

In May 2019, deputy minister of defence responsible for acquisitions Alexey Krivoruchko visited the NPP Polyot company in Nizhny Novgorod, which develops all Russian military communication systems, to announce work was to start on a new airborne command post variant of the Mi-38. For years, the NPP Polyot has developed the Forvard-M (Forward) helicopter command post system for the Mi- 8MTV-5-1 airframe. This could be the system to be transferred to the bigger Mi-38T.

Be-200

Not by accident did civilian Be- 200 amphibious aircraft RA-21512 appear among the military aircraft on static display at Kubinka. Last year, deputy minister of defence responsible for acquisitions Alexey Krivoruchko announced the Ministry of Defence would soon order a first batch of three Be-200 aircraft, with deliveries beginning in 2019. On display in the United Aircraft Corporation’s exhibition hall was a Be-200 model painted in a Russian Naval Aviation colour scheme. However, the Russian Ministry of Defence signed a contract with Beriev for six Be- 200 aircraft on May 23, 2013, for delivery between 2014 and 2016. After Be-200 production was moved from Irkutsk to Taganrog, the new facility had difficulties handling the production, and in 2017 the Ministry of Defence broke from the contract. Normal rate production of the Be-200 only recently started at Taganrog. The Be-200 aircraft displayed at Kubinka carried KAS-150 rescue capsules that store a dinghy or liferaft, as well as medical, radio and other equipment necessary for the survivors, on underwing pylons.

DA42T

Diamond’s DA42T is a dedicated training derivative of the DA42 NG model; its development was ordered in 2013, and deliveries started in 2017. DA42T aircraft are assembled in Russia by the Ural Works of Civil Aviation (UWCA) in Yekaterinburg, and are fitted with Russian avionics including navigation and communication systems.

As early as December 2017, while visiting the UWCA plant, the then deputy minister of defence Yuri Borisov announced an order for 35 Diamond DA42T trainers to be based at the aviation training base in Balashov to replace An-26s.

DA42T RF-68502, 05 Black, was on display at Kubinka.