Ukrainian paratroopers shot down Russia’s most advanced attack helicopter Ka-52 by using the Stugna-P anti-tank missile system.
In its war in Ukraine, Russia has lost more Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopters than any other manned aircraft. Since Moscow widened its war on Kyiv starting the night of Feb. 23, no fewer than 10 of the two-seat, stacked-rotor Ka-52s have been shot down, destroyed on the ground, abandoned or captured.
A video that circulated online in early April underscores the Alligator’s vulnerability. On or before Tuesday, Ukrainian troops shot down a Ka-52 using a seemingly unusual weapon—a Stugna-P laser-guided anti-tank missile.
Ukrainian soldiers shoot down a Russian KA-52 with a Stugna ATGM pic.twitter.com/moNUqHMdFe
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) April 5, 2022
The video depicts a Ukrainian soldier—reportedly serving with the elite 95th Air Assault Brigade—behind his Stugna-P’s television monitor, peering at a Ka-52 flying low and slow a few hundred yards away. The monitor connects to the missile-launcher via a 50-yard cable, allowing the shooter to put distance between themself and the inevitable puff of dust resulting from a launch.
That’s one way Stugna-P operators avoid return fire. Ukrainian missileers also have worked out shoot-and-scoot tactics, firing then fleeing to their waiting vehicles before the Russians can counterattack.
Even with evasive tactics, the Ukrainian targeting that K-52 might have been in big trouble if he had missed. The Alligator is Russia’s most modern gunship. It’s heavily armed, with a 30-millimeter gun, anti-tank missiles and unguided rockets—including the same 25-pound S-8 that apparent Ukrainian helicopters used to destroy an oil depot in Belgorod, Russia, last week. But he didn’t miss. His 66-pound missile, either following a laser or under manual guidance, struck the Ka-52 head-on
The soldiers responsible for this unusual engagement belonged to the 95th Air Assault Brigade of the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces, according to the open-source intelligence project Ukraine Weapons Tracker which shared the video.
The Stugna-P, a domestic variant of the Skif system designed for export, is an anti-tank guided-missile system developed by the Ukrainian manufacturer Luch Design Bureau. It is conceived to destroy stationary and moving ground armored targets. It offers two types of firing modes: manual, and fire-and-forget. It can be manually guided over 50 meters and has a maximum range of 5 kilometers (3 miles).
The platform differs from similar anti-tank systems, such as the US-made BGM-71 TOW, in its ability to be launched and controlled remotely, via a separate control station. The cost of one laser-guided missile for the Stugna-P is estimated at approximately $20,000 (€18,000).
According to Defense Express, Russian media accidentally revealed the weakness of the Ka-52 “Alligator”. Accordingly, the most sophisticated Russian helicopter could have been shot down by a few shots from a 7.62mm rifle.
Now when it falls into the hands of the Ukrainian military, Ukrainian and foreign experts will have the opportunity to “dissect” the helicopter. It seems that the Ka-5a ‘Aligator’ is not as complicated as what Russian media portrays. This could deal a significant blow to the Russian defense industry.