Russian forces in Ukraine may have shot down one of their own attack helicopters this week after it mistakenly fired on Russian ground forces. The incident is the latest in a trend of Russian friendly fire incidents in the ongoing war in Ukraine.
On Tuesday, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces shared a Facebook post that called the reported friendly fire incident among Russian forces a “‘Gesture of good will’ from the invaders.”
“Yesterday, three Russian Ka-52 in the Kherson region intended to attack our units, but… put a blow to their own,” the translated Ukrainian military statement continued. “Returning, the occupiers’ helicopters came under ‘friendly’ fire from the frightened air defense calculations of the Russian troops. Russian air defense has never been distinguished by accuracy, so the invaders shot down only one of their Ka-52 attack helicopters out of three. It’s a pity. . . #stoprussia.”
The reported friendly fire incident comes just over a week after Russian air defense forces reportedly shot down one of their own Su-34 Fullback fighter bombers. The fighter jet in question was flying around the town of Alchevsk in the Luhansk Oblast of Ukraine when it was reportedly shot down and images shared on social media purported to show the wreckage. Social media users even identified the downed aircraft as one of Russia’s newer upgrade Su-34M models.
Jeremy Fleming, the head of the United Kingdom’s GCHQ intelligence service, said in March that intelligence analysts had seen another instance of Russian forces accidentally shooting down another one of their own aircraft, as well as other instances of intentional self-sabotage among Russia’s invasion forces in Ukraine.
The Russian Kamov Ka-52 Alligator is a two-seat version of the Ka-50 Black Shark attack helicopter. The helicopter is equipped with a 30mm cannon and can carry a variety of anti-tank missiles and rocket pods. According to Military Today, each Ka-52 costs about $16 million. The Ka-52 is operated by Russian and Egyptian forces.
It is difficult to accurately aircraft, vehicle and equipment losses throughout the ongoing war in Ukraine. Ukraine and Russia provide regular estimates of the losses they have inflicted on the opposing side but provide minimal accounting for losses on their own side.
According to Oryx, an organization that attempts to link photographic evidence to each reported military loss in the war, Russia has lost 49 helicopters so far. Of those 49 helicopters, 47 have been destroyed, one has been damaged and another has been captured. Oryx has reported 15 of those helicopters were destroyed Ka-52s and another captured Ka-52.
Oryx has also reported 38 Russian airplanes lost in the ongoing fighting, including 37 destroyed and one damaged.