Russia and Iran are exploring whether Moscow could provide its most advanced attack helicopters to Tehran, according to new reports.

Writing in its daily update on the war in Ukraine, the Institute for the Study of War think tank referenced an editorial published by the Tasnim news agency in Tehran, which is linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

The ISW said the media outlet discussed how a “Russo-Iranian joint production deal could allow Iran to receive Russian Mi-28 and Ka-52 attack helicopters.”

Both Russia and Iran would look to such agreements as a way to relieve the pressure of U.S. sanctions against them, the ISW added.

Comp Photo of Mil Mi-28 and Ka-52
In this combination mage, the Mil Mi-28 (NATO reporting name “Havoc”) is a Russian all-weather, day-night, military tandem, two-seat anti-armor attack helicopter and inset image of Ka-52 “Alligator” helicopter. Reports say Russia and Iran are exploring whether Moscow could provide its most advanced attack helicopters to Tehran.
Artem Katranzhi/Alex Beltyukov

The chairman of Russia’s Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, visited Tehran on Monday and was quoted by the Tasnim news agency as terming increased trade between Russia and Iran as being “extremely important” in the context of sanctions.

The upgraded variants of the Russian Mi-28 and Ka-52 have been previously described by the Russian state media as the “cutting edge” of Moscow’s attack helicopter arsenal. The Ka-52 is Russia’s “most advanced attack helicopter,” Forbes wrote in 2020 as Russia tested out its upgraded Ka-52M.

There have been several variants of the Mi-28 and Ka-52 that have been updated to provide—among other benefits—increased night operational capability and enhanced weaponry.

The Mi-28NE and Mi-28NM are among the Mi-28’s upgraded models following the twin-seat attack helicopter’s introduction in 1982, according to the U.S. government’s ODIN information system. Export versions have been sold to countries such as Iraq and Algeria.

According to Kremlin-linked media outlet TASS, the Ka-52 attack helicopter is designed to destroy tanks, rotorcraft, and armored vehicles on the battlefield “under any weather conditions and at any time of the day or night.”

Able to accelerate to 186 mph with an operating range of 740 miles, the Ka-52 can carry a payload of 2.5 tons, the outlet reported. It is also fitted with laser-guided anti-tank missiles and rockets.

Variants of both the Ka-52 and Mi-28 have been used in Ukraine, according to Russian state media, with TASS reporting on the two attack helicopters “wiping out enemy strongholds and armor” in the war-torn country.

Describing the Mi-28NE, TASS said the helicopter is designed to “destroy aerial targets, tanks, and armor and can also be employed for reconnaissance and patrols.”

Outfitted with a 30 mm gun and “three types” of anti-tank missiles with a range of up to six miles, the Mi-28NE’s rotor blades “can withstand strikes by 30 mm shells.”

In November 2022, the Russian state news agency reported that the export modifications of Russian Ka-52M and Mi-28NM attack helicopters will include “a new multi-purpose missile” with a guaranteed striking range of up to 14,500 meters.

Two months earlier, in September 2022, state media said the upgraded Ka-52M had been “successfully” tested in Ukraine. TASS quoted an unnamed source who said the Ka-52M had “proven its worth in action.”

Newsweek has reached out to Russian and Iranian authorities for a response.

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