Russia Produced 296 Military Helicopters in 2022: Output Surged 120 Percent to Meet Wartime Demand

On August 7 the chief executive officer of Russia’s Rostec state owned defence conglomerate Sergey Chemezov reported that production of military helicopters under the State Defence Order had more than doubled, with 296 helicopters having been produced in 2022 alone compared to just 134, or 55 percent less, in 2021. “Under state defence order the production of military helicopters has doubled… As for the helicopter industry, our Russian Helicopters holding produced 296 helicopters in 2022. The last year [2021] there were 134 of them, while this year – 296, which is a significant increase,” he stated. His statement comes as Russia has sought to significantly expand output of key defence products due to both the requirements imposed by the ongoing war in Ukraine, and due to the growing perceived threat posed by an expanding NATO alliance at a time of high tensions between Moscow and the West. Russian attack helicopters have played an increasingly important role in the war effort, with Mi-28 and Ka-52 attack helicopters prominently taking a heavy toll on Ukrainian armour from early June 2022 as the Ukrainian Military and accompanying paramilitaries attempted to launch mass offensives against Russian positions. Attack helicopters have been responsible for destroying newly supplied Western hardware such as M2 Bradley fighting vehicles and Leopard main battle tanks, as well as supporting assaults on Ukrainian forward positions. 

Although the standing of Russian defence products has diminished in multiple areas since the end of the Cold War, Russian helicopters are still seen to lead the world in performance with the Mi-28 and Ka-52 attack helicopters having no near peer rivals elsewhere in the world. Both were clean sheet designs introduced after the Cold War, and were produced on a considerable scale throughout the 2010s alongside the Mi-35 – a heavily enhanced derivative of the Soviet era Mi-24. Some of the most frequently released footage from the frontlines by official Russian sources in 2023 has been of attack helicopters destroying Ukrainian armoured vehicles, with such incidences appearing to increase sharply after Ukrainian offensives began in early June. To maximise effectiveness in anti armour roles a new missile, the Vikhr-1, was developed for the Ka-52 attack helicopter allowing it to engage targets from safe distances were any possible accompanying Ukrainian air defence assets would be less effective. The growing effectiveness of attack helicopters on the frontlines has been widely credited to the rapid depletion of Ukraine’s air defence arsenals. The latest footage, released on August 7, showed a Ka-52 using a guided missile to destroy a Ukrainian armoured vehicle that was attempting to hide amid foliage in the Zaporozhye region.