Fort Russ – 15th January, 2016
Russian Kamov Ka-52 (NATO reporting name: Hokum-B) attack/scout helicopters carrying the Vitebsk electronic warfare system will deploy to Syria to provide security for the Russian task force at Khmeimim air base in Latakia, a defense industry source told TASS on Friday, Jan. 15, 2016.
“Ka-52 helicopters equipped with the Vitebsk electronic warfare system will be deployed to Syria soon. They will not only control the situation around the Khmeimim airfield, but also conduct combat search and rescue [CSAR] operations,” the source said.
He stressed that the Ka-52 deployment to Syria would be the first time the type has been used on a combat operation. The decision to send Ka-52s to a war zone also is due to the need to test them under such conditions. In addition, the Vitebsk EW system will be tested there too.
Thus, the Ka-52 will become another Russian-made type of armament, which baptism of fire will take place as part of the operation against the Russia-banned Islamic State terrorist group in Syria. According to military experts, Russia continues the testing of its latest weaponry during the counterterrorist operation in the Middle East.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said previously that the Russian Armed Forces had “extra assets” to conduct operations like that and that “we will use them as well, if need be.” Aerospace Force Commander-in-Chief Viktor Bondarev said that virtually all advanced materiel being fielded with the service “has been tested in Syria or is being there now, meeting the requirements specification we set for it.”
At present, the Russian air task force in Syria operates Mil Mi-24P (Hind) and upgraded Mi-35M attack and Mi-8AMTSh (Hip) transport/attack helicopters. One of the latter was lost after having been hit by ground fire on the CSAR operation in the north of Syria on November 24, 2015 after a Turkish Air Force fighter had shot down a Russian Aerospace Force Sukhoi Su-24M (Fencer) tactical bomber.