CHILLING footage captures the moment a low-flying Russian helicopter is hit by a missile before crashing into a field in Ukraine in a blazing inferno.
The Russian aircraft, reportedly a Mi-35M attack helicopter, was shot down while flying extremely close to the ground by a MANPADS (man-portable air defence system).
In the short clip, which was shared widely on social media, the chopper can be seen hugging the ground as it flies over fields in southern Ukraine.
Suddenly, it bursts into flames after apparently being struck in the engine exhaust area at the base of the main rotor by a missile.
Footage believed to have been filmed from a drone shows the aircraft spinning before crashing to the ground.
The helicopter explodes in an enormous fireball, sending flames and thick black smoke pouring into the sky.
Debris or possibly crew members can be seen falling from the aircraft after the missile strikes it.
Pictures from the crash scene show the fiery wreckage of the helicopter.
Ukraine’s Azov SSO battalion claimed responsibility for shooting down the helicopter, which it claimed was a Russian Mi-24, although elsewhere it has been reported as an Mi-35M.
It also said the helicopter was struck in the Zaporizhzhia region just east of Kherson.
The video was geolocated to an area just inside the pro-Russian separatist region of Donetsk on the border with Zaporizhzhia.
Posting on the messaging app Telegram, the Azov SSO said: “Original footage of the Russian Mi-24 helicopter in the Zaporizhzhia region.
“Aimed shot by a missile from the Stinger MANPADS was fired by an SSO Avoz fighter under the pseudonym Betsyk.
“The burning helicopter of the occupiers made an ‘unplanned’ landing right in the middle of the Ukrainian field.
“Now it is his permanent location.”
All you need to know about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Everything you need to know about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine…
Russian helicopters have often been spotted flying ultra-low to the ground to avoid radar detection.
However, as the video demonstrates, this can make them extremely vulnerable both to Ukrainian MANPADS and anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs).
FIM-92 Stingers are infrared homing surface-to-air missiles which can be carried by an individual soldier similar to the British NLAW (Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapons) or adapted to fire from a variety of ground vehicles and helicopters.
The Twitter account Ukraine Weapons Tracker which has been closely following the war claimed that the chopper was shot with Igla MANPADS by the 231st Battalion in Donetsk.
The burning helicopter of the occupiers made an ‘unplanned’ landing right in the middle of the Ukrainian field
Azov SSO battalion
However, according to aircraft and defence news site The Aviationist, the lack of trailing smoke, coupled with the speed of the missile suggests it may have been shot down by a British Starstreak short-rang MANPADS.
The Starstreak is the world’s fastest surface-to-air missile and can travel at three times the speed of sound.
Britain’s Starstreaks were used to devastating effect for the first time in Ukraine in April when a Mi-28N helicopter was shot down in the Luhansk region in the east of the country.
The site wrote: “The Starsteak high-velocity missile system was supplied to Ukraine by Britain last month along with a further shipment of NLAWs.”
According to the Thales Group website: “Starstreak’s highly unique design significantly differentiates it from other short-range air defence (SHORAD) missiles.
“Designed and developed from first principals to engage fast, evasive or heavily armoured pop-up targets, all in a short timeframe, the system is required to travel at exceptionally high speed.
“Simultaneously, it has to be small and light enough to be man-portable on the battlefield where it may increasingly need to be deployed in urban environments.”
Earlier this month, dramatic footage captured the shooting down of a Russian helicopter in the Donbas after being hit by a Ukrainian missile.
The remarkable clip showed the helicopter spinning in circles as it dropped out of the sky before bursting into flames.
It comes as Russia’s bloody war with Ukraine heads into its 114th day with no clear end in sight.
Ukraine has ignored a Russian ultimatum to surrender the besieged eastern city of Sievierodonetsk, despite Vlad’s forces controlling 80 per cent of it.
Russia had ordered Ukrainian forces to stop their “senseless resistance and lay down arms” on Wednesday morning, accusing Kyiv of disrupting plans to open a humanitarian corridor for civilians.
Thousands of ordinary women, children and elderly people are said to be trapped in Sievierodonetsk, around 54 miles northwest of Luhansk, with food, clean water and electricity running low.
Around 500 civilians are believed to be pinned down alongside soldiers in the city’s Azot chemical plant.
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