MANPADS vs President-S: Russian Mi-8 Avoids “Moderate” Missile in Hama

Translated by Ollie Richardson


A Russian Mi-8 helicopter transporting humanitarian aid to the Syrian province of Hama on the 8th October was fired at from a MANPADS. The missile missed.

The official statement said that thanks to the gained altitude, the timely detection of fire, and the skill of the crew, who used an anti-missile maneuver, the Mi-8 managed to avoid any damage.

None of the Russian military personnel who was in the helicopter suffered. But was it only the skill of the pilot that saved the helicopter and all who were on board?

Alas, no anti-missile maneuver by a helicopter that has a MANPADS locked on it can save it. Our pilots in Afghanistan were convinced of this. However, even during the Vietnam war the Soviet type “Strela” MANPADS downed over 200 American helicopters and airplanes. Even infrared countermeasures did not always help. And against modern missiles with updated software that discard false targets, they are generally powerless.

In August 2002, while approaching Khankala airport in Grozny, a heavy Mi-26 helicopter was taken down by militants. 127 people were killed, more than on the “Kursk” submarine. The chopper was shot at with an “IGLA”, it is not clear how the militants got it. This has forced the military to think about whether it is possible to protect the helicopters from missiles with infrared homing heads.

The basis of the complex “President-S” is a specially designed sapphire crystal lamp.

The task was put before the defense industry. Technically it was very complex, and the realization of it was like a thriller. When the model of unique protection in 2004 was for the first time built-in metal, the developer-company was attacked by raiders. Someone liked the area where it was possible to build a profitable shopping center, but were impeached by some research institutes. The arrival was repulsed, including through the actions of “Rossiyskaya Gazeta“.

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The system of optical-electronic protection was made, tested, and the military was satisfied with it, who took it into service. They even offered it for export under the name “President-S”. In the summer of 2010 at the weapons exhibition Eurosatory in Paris, the world premiere of our “President” took place. It became a sensation. No army in the world has anything like it.

By a strange coincidence, at the end of the same year, Professor Alexander Kobzar tried to initiate a criminal case against one of the main developers of the opto-electronic protection, on a completely trumped-up pretext. Nothing came of it at the time.

Since 2010, all Russian-built helicopters operating in “hot spots”, under obligatory orders, were equipped with “President” systems.

It is a “bulb” that is mounted on the lower outer part of the fuselage of the helicopter. Special sensors scan the air space and once a flying missile with an infrared head is detected, it gives the command to switch on the protective system.


According to experts, the work of the “President-S” system is based on highly specialised radiation, modulated in a special way, of the sapphire crystal lamp that was especially designed for this. In the missile guidance system there is a phantom image that its electronic “brain” perceives as the main target. A kind of transcendent virtual reality appears, which insistently strongly attracts to itself. The rocket, rushing into an empty space, in a calculated time, self-destructs.


Our newspaper first reported on the development of protection of helicopters from missiles with infrared homing heads 12 years ago.

It would seem, everything is very simple, but nobody in the world solved this “elementary” problem except Russian engineers, and didn’t bring it to industrial production.

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Now the “President-S” system is mounted on armed-scout Ka-52 “alligator” helicopters from the moment of assembly. They started to put “bulbs” on Mi-8 that went on combat missions.

The system of optical-electronic protection is actively improved. It is planned to equip Su-25 attack planes with them. For heavier planes, including bombers, systems of protection against rockets with infrared heads of homing are being created on the basis of laser technologies. Perspective samples were shown on aerospace exhibition Maks 2009.

And in Syria, 8th October, it seems, was a successful combat testing of the protective system that is on our helicopters.


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