With the preeminent feature of being able to withstand attacks from man-portable air defense missiles, the Vitebsk-25 electronic warfare system is considered the “savior” of the Russian Ka-52 attack helicopter on the battlefield. The Vitebsk-25 electronic warfare system was first presented at the Eurosatory 2010 arms show in Paris. However, at the time, experts were still skeptical about the system’s ability to deflect missiles.
Russia first deployed the Vitebsk system on Ka-52 helicopters in Syria and recorded impressive results. “Not a single helicopter equipped with the Vitebsk was hit by terrorists’ MANPADS missiles,” Russian officials said. Ka-52 helicopters equipped with Vitebsk systems have also passed the harsh tests of the Egyptian Ministry of Defense. The country’s military launched 20 IGLA man-portable air defense missiles at Ka-52, not hitting a single shot.
Official documents say the system has an Infrared (IR) missile tracker and laser countermeasure. The laser countermeasure is used against IR-guided surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles. It is reinforced with a flare dispenser. The equipment can reportedly detect and jam threats across 120 degrees’ azimuth and 60 degrees’ elevation. Alongside IR threats Vitebsk-25 detects and jams radar threats from four gigahertz/GHz up to 18GHz.
One of Vitebsk’s preeminent features is its fully automatic operation, allowing it to react quickly to threats without waiting for a crew decision. To operate effectively, Vitebsk-25 uses a combination of different sensors and receivers, including radar warning receivers, laser warning receivers and missile approach warning sensors, to detect potential threats, issue warnings to pilots, and deploy countermeasures.
The Vitebsk-25 system can be easily integrated into both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, making them a versatile solution for air forces. It is known that the system was deployed on aircraft supporting Russia’s intervention in the Syrian civil war. Lessons learned from its deployment in this conflict resulted in an upgrade thought to have been completed in 2018. Alongside the RUAF, the systems are believed to equip the Mi-17V1 medium-lift utility helicopters of the Egyptian Air Force.