The amazing invulnerability of the “Crocodile” is explained by the presence on board of the protective optical-electronic complex “Vitebsk”. The history of its appearance was very difficult. Also, to bring, as they say, to “iron” the system for protecting aircraft from anti-aircraft missiles with infrared homing heads, became possible in large measure thanks to Rossiyskaya Gazeta. And this is worth remembering.
In August 2002, while approaching the Khankala airfield in Grozny, militants shot down a heavy Mi-26 helicopter. 127 people died, more than on the Kursk nuclear icebreaker. They struck the turntable, the investigation established, with a shot from the Igla Man-Portable Anti-Aircraft Missile System (MANPADS). This forced the military to think about how to ensure the protection of helicopters against missiles with infrared warheads.
It was decided to return to the idea of optoelectronic counteracting on board the infrared heads. Back in Afghanistan, SOEP-V1A optoelectronic jamming stations (product L-166 or “Lipa”) were installed on Mi-24 helicopters. It proved to be very effective in the fight against MANPADS of the first generations. But against the “Stingers” and even more so “Eagle” no longer worked.
But the developers of this protection system did not sit idly by. And, having received the task to create a new, more modern system, they began to work it out, having an almost ready base.
In 2004, a working model of a unique protection was mounted in metal. And then the developer company, one of the defense research institutes located in Zelenograd near Moscow, was attacked by raiders. Several companies in the defense industry worked to solve this problem. But the Zelenograd research institute became the center of the brain at that time – they attacked it. The general director of the research institute and the chief designer was the Doctor of Technical Sciences, Professor Alexander Ivanovich Kobzar. He turned to Rossiyskaya Gazeta, and we did not stand aside.
It is quite possible to assume, especially from today’s point of view, that the real foreign enemies of our state were behind all that “commercial” raid. Although formally, according to the laws of the market, local businessmen acted. Someone allegedly liked the territory where it was possible to establish a profitable shopping center, but the defense research institute prevented it.
The defense of the company and its scientific workers was possible thanks to the opportune presentation of our newspaper and the integrity of the forces of order, who saw something more behind the “dispute of economic entities.” The attack was repulsed.
The optoelectronic protection system was made, tested, the military was satisfied and immediately adopted it. They even allowed the export of the product. Under the name “President-S” in the summer of 2010, the world premiere of our protection took place at the Paris arms fair. And it became a sensational discovery of Eurosatory-2010.
It can be assumed that NATO, especially abroad, experienced a shock. And by a strange, or maybe not strange coincidence, at the end of the same 2010, they tried to initiate a criminal case against one of the main creators of the optoelectronic defense complex, Alexander Kobzar, under a completely far-fetched pretext. Nothing happened at that time either. The protection system has already been manufactured, put into production and passed to military aviation.
All Russian helicopters operating in “hot spots” must be equipped with protection systems, which received the name “Vitebsk” for internal use. The main “firing elements” of the protection are balls mounted on the lower outer part of the helicopter fuselage. The operation of the complex is based on specially modulated, narrow-directed radiation from a specially designed sapphire lamp installed in a ball. A ghost image appears in the control system of an anti-aircraft missile, which your electronic “brain” perceives as the main target. A kind of transcendental virtual reality appears, which persistently calls itself. The rocket hurtles into empty space, where it self-destructs at the estimated time.
The main “shooting elements” of protection are balls mounted on the bottom of the helicopter fuselage, in which powerful sapphire lamps are located.
The Vitebsk system is installed on all Ka-52M Alligator attack and reconnaissance helicopters, partly on some Mi-8 versions taking part in hostilities. It is planned to equip the Mi-28N and Su-25 attack aircraft with them.
By the way, the Vitebsk was first tested in combat on October 8, 2016 in Syria. A Russian Mi-8 helicopter carrying humanitarian cargo in Hama province came under fire from a Stinger MANPADS. The protective complex worked correctly. The rocket passed. Mi-8 did not receive any damage, none of the pilots and servicemen who were in the helicopter and accompanying the cargo were injured.
Unfortunately, Alexander Ivanovich Kobzar himself, the developer of a sapphire lamp, working according to the most complex mathematical algorithms calculated by him, did not live to see the real triumph of his product. An outstanding scientist and an extraordinary person in all respects passed away at the age of 82 in early 2022.
And “Vitebsk”, in the creation of which his contribution cannot be underestimated, works in the NVO zone every day, reliably protecting Russian “alligators”.