For three weeks starting in early June 2016, the Damascus suburb of Darayya was exposed to merciless aerial bombardment carried out primarily by Mil Mi-25 — NATO code name “Hind” — gunship helicopters belonging to the Syrian Arab Air Force.
The Hinds dropped no fewer than 564 bombs over this period, underscoring the Mi-25’s reputation as one of Syria’s worst terror weapons.
The Mi-25 is often described as a “downgraded” variant of the classic Mi-24 gunship. It’s a big, heavy, fast and heavily-armed helicopter with armor protecting its cockpit and the most important parts of its engines.
Its major characteristics include its small stub wings, relatively slender fuselage and two separate cockpits in front of a big main cabin.
The major difference between the Mi-24 and the Mi-25 is that the latter is armed with four old, 9M17 Skorpion guided anti-tank missiles, known to NATO as AT-2 Swatters. The AT-2 is a radio-commanded anti-tank missile with a range of 3,500 meters that can reportedly penetrate up to 500 millimeters of armor.
While AT-2s are still in use in Syria, the Mi-25s’ primary armament consists of the Yak-B 12.7-millimeter machine gun that’s installed in a barbette under the front cockpit, plus up to four UB-32–57 pods for 57-millimeter unguided rockets or various bombs up to 500 kilograms in weight, for a maximum total of 2,000 kilograms.
According to official claims from Damascus — frequently cited in the Russian press — the Syrian Arab Air Force received its first batch of 12 Mi-25 helicopter gunships just in time for the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in June 1982.
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