The Russian Armed Forces have developed a significant number of advanced weapon systems and air assets during the “special operation” in Ukraine. However, analyst interest has focused on a rare and unique version of them which has appeared in Ukraine, in the Mi-8 MTPR-1 Rychag with a special role of suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD -Suppression of Enemy Air Defense).
The Mi-8MTPR-1 helicopter is an upgraded model of the usual Mi-8MTV-5-1 outfitted with the Reichg-AV EW system. The use of this helicopter in the Ukraine war was recently confirmed by a photo issued by the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The Rychag-AV (Aviatsyonnyi Vertolotnyi, airborne for helicopter; Rychag-AVE is a derivative for export) EW system suppresses enemy surface-to-air missile (SAM) system fire-control radars by jamming them.
In this way, it provides protection for a group of friendly strike aircraft, helicopters, or drones. The system can also jam the radars of enemy aircraft, thereby offering protection not only for friendly air assets but also helping to defend friendly ground troops that might otherwise come under air attack under some scenarios.
The Rychag-AV system can work fully automatically, without the need for operator participation, according to a pre-set program. In the semi-automatic mode, the operator selects the methods of jamming, while in the manual mode the operator also assesses the overall electromagnetic situation and selects the targets to be jammed.
The Mi-8MTPR-1 is the newest Russian EW helicopter and is currently the only one in production. It’s probably also the only model in active service with the Russian military.
However, despite this material, Russia didn’t achieve air supremacy yet in the skies above Ukraine.