Hunting for "Crocodile"
- May 4, 2013
YuARovskie stormtroopers "Impala" against the Angolan Mi-25
In autumn 1985 the army of Angola (FAPLA) and fought on the side of her Cuban Division conducted an operation known in the West under the name "Second Congress". The goal of surgery is to restore government control over the province Kuzombo and defeating the rebel movement UNITA troops in the "capital" of the rebels - Jambi. Air support was carried Squadron Angola, based at airfields Menongue and Cuito Kvanavale. In Menongue aircraft stationed in Quito - Helicopters four Mi-25 (export version of the Mi-24), two Mi-8 and Mi-17 four. At the battle, "crocodiles" was entrusted with escorting transport helicopters, "clearing" areas before landing landings and providing close air support.
When accompanied by the "eights" Mi-25 helicopters were flying at an altitude of 900 - 1800 meters, holding just above and to the side of the transport machinery. Sometimes the "Rainbow" accompanied manned by Cubans MiG-23 that went in circles on the heights of 4000 - 5000 m The attack government forces developed successfully by October rebel leader Jonas Savimbi was in a very difficult position - Government troops took to the immediate approaches to Jamba. Help UNITA has once again come out of South Africa. Rand Air Base were deployed to South African Air Force attack aircraft "Impala". Joint actions of South Africans and the MPLA troops Savimbi offensive in late October, failed to stop. But intelligence denunciations that Angolan troops are preparing a new operation, and rapid maneuver government troops to provide helicopters.
South African light attack "Impala"Savimbi personally appealed to their South African allies with a proposal to be used to combat helicopters gunships "Impala". The first reaction to this idea was puzzling. First, the tactics of air combat aircraft against helicopters in Africa still has not been applied or even developed. Second, there were fears that the growing use of the South African Air Force will lead to an escalation of the conflict, in particular - to retaliatory strikes by the Angolan MiG air bases in South Africa itself. After much hesitation, the decision to use aircraft against Angolan helicopters in the first place - the Mi-25, it was still pending. South African intelligence has established an extremely low professional skills of crews "crocodiles". Angolan pilots were poorly trained the chart, making flight routes were laid along only notable natural landmarks - the rivers or roads. In bad weather, the helicopters do not fly, completely lacked discipline in radio crews. All this, of course, facilitated the task of "Impala", but then the South African pilots do not have the slightest experience of running air battles, and even more so - with helicopters, they were taught only strike at ground targets. After deciding against helicopters Pretoria immediately organized a series of flight tests to develop best tactics Mi-25 attack jets.Helicopters "Puma" simulated typical flight profiles Angolan "choppers» (chopper - «Tin Man" - Western nickname Mi-25). The problem was complicated by the presence of a serious threat, "Impala" by the MiG-23. MiGs, as already mentioned, piloted by Cubans, whose training, at least not inferior to prepare South African pilots and pilots with equal skill chance in a dogfight with the MiGs at the "Impala" does not have any, in the end, "Impala" - it's just a modification of the Italian training aircraft MV.326K. South Africans could only hope for a sudden short-lived attack, which in the area of battle needed to go out at the height of tops of trees, not to get on the radar screens of Angola. Attack helicopters should be carried out with the back of a hemisphere with a slight excess of the height, but even here it's not easy. First - a traditional tactic of air combat, which at the very least know the Angolan helicopter. Therefore, the Mi-25 attack did not rule out the tail, and periodically turns, checking for the enemy in the rear hemisphere. Second, the velocity of the "Impala", even hung with hanging arms, much higher than the speed of helicopter that is, when an attack plane slips forward, putting his tail under fire powerful weapons "crocodile". In the end, the attack was recognized as the best pair in the minimum speed that is close to the regime of stalling. At the same aircraft to another and "scissors", trying to somehow equalize their speed with the speed of helicopters. The first on the closing helicopter had opened fire leading pair, and the share of the slave remained the leading Mi-25. Fortunately for the South Africans, they did not have a "free hunt" - routes and even the time of flight of helicopters were well known and had not been changed for weeks. Zone upcoming fights was a 35-minute flight, "Impala" from Rand airport, and a scrum was given only a few minutes.
Soldiers of the Angolan UNITA rebel army pose the wreckage of the Mi-8 was shot down South Africans September 29, 1985To intercept the aircraft was allocated four pairs, three of them - shock, and one - "hedging". She was supposed to in the event of adverse developments cover a downed pilot before the arrival of the two search and rescue helicopters "Puma". The entire flight was to perform in the mode-locked. Pilots were not allowed to be distracted by any other purpose, other than helicopters, even if the meeting with the Mi-25 for some reason did not take place. Monitoring of the situation on the route of flight light single-engine helicopters carried out reconnaissance, which were based on airfields. Team to take off, "Impala" was given only after the discovery of the enemy. In the evening, September 27, 1985 in the flight room Rand airport from the loudspeaker sounded code word "Bravo" - Helicopters detected. A pair of Mi-25 took to the air from an air base Cuito Kvanavale. Four pairs of planes took off at an interval of four minutes and headed north. The first visual contact with a second set lead pair of "Impala". The Mi-25 went to an altitude of about 600 meters Pilot seamlessly took the starting position for the attack back on top. Attack took place as the exercises - all of the 20-mm cannon driven "Impala" pierced the fuselage of the Mi-25 from nose to tail rotor turret. The helicopter broke out, but the pilot continued to operate the machine in hopes to land safely. Then the "Impala" turned and attacked a second time, releasing blocks of underwing rockets.
Fotokinopulemeta footage, which depicted hitting a 20-mm shells "Impala" in the Angolan Mi-25Leading pursued another Mi-25. The pilot of the second helicopter turned 180 ° and started to dive to go to the ground. "Impala" went on the attack with an overload 5G and a pretty bad angle - from the bottom side. The pilot opened fire with a gun at a distance of about 500 meters as the aiming point, he chose APU exhaust nozzle helicopter. According to the report, the pilot nineteen shells hit the fuselage of the helicopter, approximately opposite the main gearbox. South African could not resist the opportunity to admire the results of their work.At extremely low speed, he went over the Mi-25, watching the agony hit by a car. From the helicopter flew off engine cowling panels, then - the main rotor blade, then "crocodile" fell on the tail and randomly tumbling to the ground. The slave meanwhile also celebrated the victory. In the next entry, he finished off the Mi-25, the gun; the helicopter also flew in different directions rotor blades, the car crashed into the ground and exploded. South African aircraft at extremely low altitude for fear of meeting with the MiGs, rushed to his base. The first "hunt" was successfully completed. Two days later, on September 29, at 9 am at the airport Rand once again sounded the alarm, "Bravo." This time with Cuito Kvanavale soared pair of Mi-8 under the guard of two Mi-25. "Impala" went to take off. The enemy did not have to search long - Helicopters followed at an altitude of 900 meters, repeating the curves of the river Lomba. "Eight" flying formation front, about a kilometer behind them one after the other were "crocodiles". South Africans do not have to reinvent the wheel: the leading pair attacked closing Mi-25 from the rear hemisphere exceeding the height of 300 m long line of guns went through the fuselage of the helicopter, the Mi-25 caught fire, but the flight continued. At the same time, problems have arisen at the most "Impala" - exit at extremely low speed and gunpowder smoke from the fire broke the engine. Still, the pilot decided to attack the second Mi-25, but, taking up the position for a strike, it passed under the nose of the burning, "crocodile", received a portion of the lead from the gun Quadruple Jac. Angolan not only trying to keep the burning helicopter on the course, but did not miss a chance to attack. However, damage to the South African attack aircraft were not lethal. From a distance of 500 m "Impala" shot the second Mi-25. Helicopter caught fire, but rushed down the spiral. In a collision with the ground it exploded.
Another downed Angolan Mi-8After the destruction of the escort, "Impala" attacked the transports. Driven by the Mi-8 they managed to bring down, but lead time dived to the ground and began to wind among the trees. All attempts to get his shells aviapushek ended inconclusively. The battle so far led only one pair of planes. Unable to cope with the "aquatic", "eight", yuarovskie pilots called to the aid of comrades, but shortly after the Mi-8 was out of sight. pilots in the post-flight report, "Impala" noted that the helicopter maneuvered aggressively, even trying to attack aircraft on a collision course. Maneuvers that the pilot was doing the Mi-8, indicated a good knowledge of their tactics of air combat, and the South Africans decided that was not sitting in the cockpit of an African, and Russian. arrives and the second pair of "Impala" still managed to rediscover the surviving helicopter, but the attempt to hit him were not successful. "Eight" continued intense maneuvering, turning periodically to simulate a frontal attack. In the end, the aircraft still forced the pilot to land the Mi-8 helicopter and shot after planting.During this time, to the battlefield came third pair of "hunters" and the lead of the first pair spotted two MiG-23. Angolan fighters swept rapidly over the place bout at the height of 10-15 meters, then a candle on a forcing soared into the sky, holding the position for the attack. Now the "Impala" acted as a game. South African fighters still managed lossless 'get-away'. "hunting crocodiles" a complete success: having lost two days six helicopters, Angolans refused to use the "turntables" for the transportation of troops and supplies . The success accompanied the South Africans, primarily because of the surprise attack. So, if in the last battle in place of Mi-8, Mi-24 was, it is still not known what would have ended the fight ("eight" could only simulate the attack because of the lack of airborne weapons).convincing victory over helicopters, airplanes are not put an end to the use of rotary-wing attack aircraft in many years the Angolan war. In the winter of 1985-86 yy Mi-25 attack armored units supported MPLA in Mavinga and Kassing, causing heavy losses in the units of UNITA.
Author Michael Nicholas
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