first published on February 16, 2018 by Josh
Aircraft are prone to mechanical failures in flight, especially helicopters. Every single part of a helicopter is constantly fighting gravity, so naturally, if a maintenance tech slips up somewhere the platform could crash or need emergency maintenance. This is exactly what happened to a Russian Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter near Palmyra, Syria. Due to mechanical failure, the aircraft was forced to conduct an emergency landing in ISIS controlled territory. Luckily enough, ground troops from the Russian military were in the area, and they were able to quickly form a cordon to assist in the crew’s evacuation.
A second helicopter came in fast, and was able to pick up the crew of the downed aircraft. The Russian ground troops were surely meant to stay on the ground in order to secure the aircraft until it could be repaired and removed from the battlefield. The Islamic State however, had a different plan. They established an ATGM firing position outside of small arms fire range, and conducted an attack against the downed helicopter just as the recovery aircraft was taking off. Ironically enough, they fired a Russian made 9k111 Fagot missile at the Russian troops on the ground, and scored a direct hit on the downed Hind at almost the exact instant the second helo was crossing behind it on take off.
This marks one of the first instances in which we have seen a true first world military get hit with an ATGM in the mess that has become the Middle East. The reaction from the Mi-8 pilot, and the troops on the ground could not have been any more perfect. The Mi-8 pilot instantly turned his throttle up to 11 to get out of the area while firing his counter-measures, and the troops on the ground also reacted without hesitation to get away from any follow on strikes. The Hind was completely destroyed, but according to the Russian Ministry of Defense, no Russians were wounded in the attack.
According to Radio Free Europe, Russia claims that the helicopter had made an emergency landing after coming under fire about 25 miles northwest of the ancient city of Palmyra, in Homs Province. After the helicopter landed, friendly ground forces surrounded it and an Mi-8 swooped in to extract the Hind’s crew. Just as that helicopter was taking off the nearby Hind exploded. A video showing the incident has been released, and as you can see, the rescue helicopter looks like it barely made it out intact. Russia says the Hind crew and the rescue helicopter crew all made it back safely to its master airbase south of Latakia.