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After encountering a new Foreign Policy article while reading Yahoo, I thought this would be of interest to the readers here, as well as those who'd love to see something done so CMBS weapons can be ported over to CMSF, allowing the rapidly expanding and already intense combat actions by Russia on behalf of Syria to be simulated.

http://news.yahoo.com/helicopter-putin-weapon-choice-syria-110030372.html

In order to survive in a heavy MANPADS environment, Russian attack helicopter pilots, operating what are/ have been made to appear to be Syrian Mi-24 HIND attack helos, are flying unprecedentedly low combat profiles. Profiles utterly unlike Cold War flight techniques. I've presented both for comparison. The tremendous level of flying skills on display in the first vid may be taken as the best level of performance a Russian combat unit can produce. Would say this is by no means typical, but with the latest strike aircraft in use in Syria, the Su-34 FULLBACK, it's obvious Putin's got his top forces in the fray. It's one thing to hedgehop over high tension lines while invading the Crimea but not under fire (video readily available online), but another matter altogether to come in ultra low and stay there with people shooting at you from all directions and disaster--via ground clobber--an eyeblink away! Notice these guys aren't executing one and done tactics, but are sticking around and working the target. 

 

Cold War

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAT-MEImJ9o

New ultra low/extreme low level attack tactics are a big deal, in my estimation, as both a former Threat Analyst and student of modern warfare, and I believe this is how the Russians would fight in Ukraine as well. Indeed, in the sort of MANPADS threat they could expect there, I believe coming in on the deck or close to that would be an operational necessity, though quite fraught. By operating barely above ground or obstacle height, the Russians reduce Detection Probability and Detection Range for the defenders. In turn, this cuts into their reaction time, allowing the attackers to get much closer than was possible before commencing the attack run. The classic low run in, then popping well up, firing and remasking is dead, I believe. In game terms, it might be helpful to give players the ability to select the desired flight profile, thus allowing them to tailor risk levels for their "flying tanks."

Regards,

John Kettler

 

Edited by John Kettler

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AFAIK, these are not new, but tactics developed in Afghanistan.  Anyways, not a fan of sweeping conclusions based on a single video / incident.  They may simply be flying lower because it is combat, not training video.

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Here's a better view of what I'm talking about, starting at around 1:00. While I don't know what the ground looks like on the other side, what is clear is that these HIND are lower than the top of the mosque dome, lower than some sort of tall wooden paired power pole and lower than telephone poles. Additionally, in that footage, the view is apparently taken across some sort of roofline, since it's basically a straight line, but with the sort of overlap you'd see with tiles or shingles superimposed. At 2:33, you can unmistakably see how low the HIND helos are flying. As for Afghanistan, my recollection is that air defenses, especially Stinger, forced Russian combat aviation higher, not lower, in order to get out of the engagement envelopes. This caused a drastic drop in combat effectiveness. 

A 1985 article, SOVIET AIR POWER, by LT COL Denny R. Nelson, published in Air University Review, January-February 1985  said:

The Soviets have had some problems with their helicopters. In 1980, losses to SA-7 surface-to-air missiles (a hand-held, heat-seeking missile) led to a change in tactics at the end of 1980 or early 1981. Since then, the Hinds have used nap-of-the-earth flight patterns, for which the machines were not designed nor their crews properly trained. There have been reports of Hind rotors striking the rear of their own helicopters during some of these nap-of-the-earth flights. The wear on airframes and systems caused by these lower-altitude flights has also greatly increased rates of operational attrition.14

These nap-of-the-earth tactics are a significant change from those employed in 1979-80. Hind crews then showed little fear of the opposition, attacking with machine guns, 57-mm rockets, or cluster and high-explosive 250-kg bombs normally during diving attacks from a 1000-meter altitude. After the firing pass, they would break away in a sharp evasive turn or terrain-hugging flight before repositioning for another firing pass. The Soviets used these tactics with several Hinds in a circular pattern, similar to the American "wagon wheel" used in Vietnam. Such tactics may still be used in some parts of Afghanistan, but by and large they have been changed.

Reportedly, new tactics that use scout helicopters for target acquisition have been adopted for both attack helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. These scouts are usually Hinds (or, in some cases, Mi-8 Hips) rather than smaller, lighter helicopters. Normally, they stay high, out of range of the target, giving crews a better field of view while directing attacks. This tactic may become standard in future Soviet conflicts.15

If the above is true, then at least some Russian helo pilots have their act together and can operate effectively in a NOE combat environment, though presumably with high wear on their steeds and themselves because of the extreme demands of operating in that flight regime. It would also appear that they are using some sort of Afghanistan post-MANPADS tactics, yet don't seem to be using the reported new pattern. I see absolutely no evidence of a scout helicopter stooging about almost completely masked as we would use the OH-58D. Maybe this was too much of a load on their overall system of control? In any event, The Washington Post has commented on the low level tactics and believes they're tied to Afghanistan, but I'm pretty sure the HIND pilots didn't drop this low. This is the second vid in that article, which characterized the altitude as "within stone-throwing range." See for yourselves right after 1:37. The vid is directly viewable on YT via the article, but the direct link will require sign-in.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TSMCkbKO18#t=101
 

From what I can tell, the ultra low flight profiles I posted about seem considerably lower than even the tactics developed and used in Afghanistan in response to the MANPADS threats.
 
Regards,
 
John Kettler
 

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Funny. I cannot reply without typing in this "Quote" box. Very well, I'll self-quote. Which, at least, is better than self-loathing.

Ahh...I just escaped from the "Quote" box by hitting "enter" twice. Interesting...

 

To the topic: John, it's called "terrain masking". They are not at roof-top level. It only LOOKS that way because of the terrain and the camera geometry. This has been done since Bleriot took the air. Or earlier.

As for new tactic, it's not. Your own posting makes that clear. The Soviets stayed low in Afghanistan UNTIL LOSSES FORCED THEM HIGHER. My shout. ;)  When/if the Russian aviation units in Syria start taking losses down low, then they'll go high. It's how it works. Helos are MUCH more effective down low. Everyone knows that. Hell, my neighbor was out with her 3 year old daughter yesterday. As I passed, the little girl waved and said, "Hey! Helicopter gunships have improved tactical efficacy at lower altitudes. Learn it: live it!"

When whichever group Putin is attacking in Syria gets large caliber AAA or Manpads, then you'll see helos in the mid-20's.

It's nice footage, but it's nothing new, for the Soviets, the Russians, the US, or old-man Bleriot.

Ken

Edited by c3k

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That is not what the quote says.  It says quite clearly that losses in 1979-80 led to Hinds operating lower, but this was very demanding on crew skill and equipment (thus may not be seen routinely in training / demonstrations).   Operating higher and diving on target's was more effective and more flexible, but led to losses from AA.  Operating high enough to avoid MANPADS is not practical.  UAVs have probably replaced scout helicopter role described.

Russians are appropriately behaving as if opposition has MANPADS and AAA (they potentially have former and definitely have latter).

Edited by akd

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That's what I get for reading, stopping, and reading again. Just like my elementary teacher said would happen. Sigh.

The terrain masking and wingman behavior is, though, quite standard. All forces start with a concept of ops which balances maximum effectiveness with decent survivability. Tactics evolve as one or the other (effectiveness or survivability) is shown to be compromised or out of balance with the other.

The beginning of the video shows something very close to the quoted 79-80 tactic of "dive-bombing" with rockets from ~1,000m altitude, then breaking off and circling back at a low altitude. I really don't see anything which is a "dramatic change". Shrug. I'll go ask the neighbor's little girl. She's into attack helos.

;)

Ken

 

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My knowledge is they flew lower after stingers became problems, Since the Muj put their AA defenses on hills or mountains they couldn't shoot the stingers aiming down at the choppers. But keep in mind Russian choppers have good chaff and flare systems, We learned the hard way that, that is what is needed to be done.

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I saw footage awhile ago of a Ukrainian transport helo ferrying top brass to a meeting near the front. The helo was flying insanely low and at top speed, needing to pop up just to clear fences and hedges. Let's hope they supplied the generals with barf bags because it was one hellofa ride.

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Yeah, the helos in the vid are continously dispensing flares. That may, or may not work. (There's actually a bit of logic needed in the flare dispensing timing: that's fodder for another time. Too many, and the missile tracks up to you. Too few, and they don't break missile lock.) So, dropping flares every 5 seconds or so may just help from the brush fires they create. ;)

 

In general, lower means more survivable. Mid level is used when the biggest threat is AAA. Once missiles are in the mix, lower is better. (SA-7 family needs cool-down time and is a one-use system. Once you start cooling the seeker, you're committed. Newer Manpads get around the cold dewar flask issue by using various other cooling solutions (rather than dumping liquid N2 on it). They all need some advance warning of the incoming aircraft.)

Ken

Edited to add: I grew up watching my Dad's 8mm vids from his helo days in Vietnam (101st). Skids in the rice while they flew: hitting treetops at the ends of fields with the belly was standard. "Insanely low" is a definition which depends on whether you're at risk or just watching. ;) My low-level experience involved having to climb before turning to make sure a wingtip wouldn't drag. Power lines suck, btw.

Edited by c3k

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This is basic attack helicopter 101 in non-permissive environment. Keep in mind that if the guy with the camera had a 12.7mm machinegun or 23mm instead, he could just as easily have shot down the hinds in this video. FLy higher avoid AAA, fly lower to mitigate SAMS. Also having trained on stingers, these videos angle aspects  still provide the shooter with ample time to shoot down the HINDS w MANPADS.

POINT being operating HINDS over  built up areas in a non permissive environment still require a bunch of luck. Also I don't know why it surprises anyone that the helo pilots are showing skill, its not like they are a bunch of yahoos devoid of combat experience or lacking the ability to study other armies combat experience.

I wonder if the Saudis will now take the dangerous step of providing more ada/manpads to the resistance.

 

Edited by Los

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As has been said already, down low and close means exposure to a host of weaponry that is generally prolific.  The US has lost more than one helo to RPG and small arms fire in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Let's not forget about Somalia.

But going up higher means being exposed to guided missiles of various types.  I suppose if the pilot suspects those are in play he'd rather be down lower and risk the "dumb" munitions.  A helo can take small arms hits and make it back to base.  MANPAD?  Not so much.

Steve

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FSA in that area have only one old ZPU-4 on pickup to fight with aerial targets. Because of Russians operate so impunity. More HMG or MANPADS and these helos would be downed...  

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"Makes you wonder if some of Ukraine's MANPADS stock might just fall off a truck somewhere out of spite rather than any long term goals. "

 

I'd imagine at this point Ukraine wants to hold on to as many MANPADS as they can.

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I'd imagine at this point Ukraine wants to hold on to as many MANPADS as they can.

I don't think their main threat is air based at the moment.  Also it's sort of like a minefield in that you wouldn't have to send a lot, you'd just need to send enough to make Putin go through the funtimes of explaining why they're short a few helicopters and there's another generation of unpleasant youtube videos.  Which then might lead to a Russian escalation, which then draws more Russian resources from the Ukraine and further isolates Russia on the international stage.  

Dunno.  Just spitballing.   

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To draw resources from Ukraine? muahaha. We have enough resources to invade Ukraine, And support Syria at the same time. And what is making me angry of Russian strategy in Syria is, That we aren't sending our highest tier equipment other then the SU-30s and SU-34s... Its very effective still but I want to see the newer tech in action. And If Ukraine were to send in MANPADs to Syria, They would be arming terrorists. I don't think that would look good to the international team. 

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Yes they are, They go around starting wars backed by a few foreign suppliers, So yeah they are terrorists. We bomb Al-qaeda,Al-Nusra, ISIL, FSA all with joy. BTW please check our footage and sources on our bombings. 90% of the strikes are against ISIL and Al-Nusra.

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I chek not YOUR sources, but interactive map of your bombing, based on video footadges and reports from different sources . ISIS takes minimum bombing. 

https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=z4PF1SFiMPjQ.kFa_qMMdFl48&hl=en_US - you can set different filter to sure in this. 

>They go around starting wars backed by a few foreign suppliers, So yeah they are terrorists. We bomb... all with joy.

Kremlin mafia afraids Quatar gas pipe through Syria and Turkey to Europe, this will means end of Gazprom lever on EU. So, you of course can defend own interests, but Gulf states also will defend own and support FSA and some groups of Jaish-al-Islam. And cadres of Talbiseh or many other Sunni settlements, leveling with Russian bombs just will cause swift response. One of it already done - Saudi Arabia entered on EU market and started push off from there Rosneft'. 

 

Edited by Haiduk

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Not delving too far into politics, however:

1. Russia has shown a distinct lack of desire for full-on Ukrainian invasion.  It is however an expensive endeavor at a time in which the Russian economy is not doing as well.  Making an equally expensive operation elsewhere would be strategically viable in terms of if not reducing Russian focus on the Ukraine, at the least making maintaining the same level of support more painful.

2. In regards to arming terrorists, Russia is pretty unambigously putting the majority of its attentions on groups that are not ISIS.  While they're hitting some of the other radical non-ISIS aligned Sunni groups, the majority of the Russian bombing in the realm of 85% of all strikes are falling on targets that could not even be remotely described as ISIS based.  Some Ukrainian weapons, of which there's already a large number in the hands of third party actors worldwide thanks to Ukrainian surplus arms sales, also would not stand out especially much.  If anything they could just shrug and claim they divested those missiles to <insert historical buyer of Ukrainian cast off weapons here> and have not seen them since the late 90's or somesuch.  

Additionally by some estimates Russia is actually inadvertently helping ISIS by damaging other groups in Syria that traditionally have resisted ISIS on the ground.  If this is either cynical policy (eliminate all not-Assad resistance to ISIS in Syria, force west to support Assad) or meatheaded foreign policy, I cannot say.  The relative lack of success of Syrian ground forces while supported by Russian aviation seems to indicate some level of  overestimation of Russian airpower or the capabilities of the Assad Regime to bring decisive conclusions.  

Most of the world views Russian airstrikes as having little to do with reducing the terrorist threat, and a lot to do with keeping Assad in power.  This is in line with current Russian objectives in the region.  If I was a country that felt Russia had invaded and armed terrorists in my eastern portion, I would perhaps feel that arming the FSA, which is largely not regarded as terrorists by the international community, to resist Assad and his Russian backers would be a good chance to draw some blood at little risk or expense.  

Edited by panzersaurkrautwerfer

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Panzer, Militarily speaking I respect you. But you don't really believe that we are bombing everyone but ISIL? ISIL is Assad's main threat. US does the same things, Iraq's government will be destroyed if US doesn't help it. I mean just because Russia does it, It doesn't mean we are doing it the bad way. This is really annoying, I can look at some US footage and evidence and say they have been delibiratley not hitting ISIL points. But I don't want to get into politics, We have evidence and footage, All statements made against us are from the rebel groups themselves. 

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The areas in which the overwhelming majority of Russian strikes have fallen lack meaningful ISIS presence.  They're majority controlled by FSA forces, which while you classify them as terrorists, they are not aligned with ISIS and are actually in open combat with them.  

The strikes are conducted strictly in support of Assad-regime objectives, which do so at the expense of weakening resistance to ISIS elsewhere (as again, FSA and ISIS are both against Assad, BUT are also violently opposed to each other) which has allowed ISIS to gain ground.  Some Russian strikes have hit ISIS controlled areas, but they are fairly small compared to efforts expended against the FSA.

This is problematic in the larger scheme of things in combating ISIS, simply because the sorts of targets Russia has hit in ISIS areas do fairly little to impact the strength of ISIS strategically.  What we need is an effective on-ground resistance to ISIS, which the Syrian Regieme alone is not (as ISIS's progress, and the floundering nature of the Syrian Army's offensive against the FSA even with Russian support illustrate).

Frankly the best way out of this is some sort of FSA-Syrian military alliance, or at least detente until  ISIS is degraded enough to be dealt with.  Russian attacks however, as I've just pointed out are doing very little to destroy ISIS, while doing a fair bit to degrade what has been at least a moderately effective ISIS resister....while proving inadequate to achieve Assad Regime aspirations.  They're not helpful, they're at best cynical, or at worst terribly misguided. 
 

Edited by panzersaurkrautwerfer

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Countless training camps, Munition depots, HQs have been destroyed, And if needed I can provide sources. I don't know how to post images but you should check out strategic operations map released by Russian military, And experts. SAA has been directly fighting against ISIL, Ever since they came in the country, Let us not forget that many FSA members went over to ISIL. There are dozens of groups in Syria all with some sort of goal, Turks, Saudis, ect ect. If Russia were to not do airstrikes onto FSA then FSA would make more gains in territory (SAA is spread out too much) Let's be real Assad is Putin's bro, And Syria and Russia have been friends for a while. It is only wrong to let Syria fall into the hands of a group such as FSA. But it will matter not, I'm getting great news from some colleagues of mine. Hopefully the operations will finish without a unneeded international incident. 

 

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>Let us not forget that many FSA members went over to ISIL. 

Heh... Man... This will be great discovering to you, but FSA and Jaish-al-Islam are the enemy of ISIS and fight with them. Yesterday ISIS pushed off FSA from infantry scholl on north from Aleppo and... without fight gave up it to SAA. 

Just a picture of strikes 7-8th Oct. Most on FSA/Jaish territory. ISIS marked with pink, rebels with yellow

areas-1008-Artboard_1.png

 

Edited by Haiduk

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