Russian Gunships Active In Sierra Leone

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Russian Gunships Active In Sierra Leone

by John Fricker

06/05/00 12:21:40 PM U.S. EDT

British military observers returning from Sierra Leone, in West Africa, where UK forces are supporting mainly African United Nations troops in beating off attacks by rebel guerrillas, have reported that Mi-24V “Hind D” helicopter gunships are being operated from Lungi International Airport on behalf of the local government.

Sierra Leone never had more than a nominal air force, with a few light aircraft, until 1995, when five Mi-24Vs were supplied from Commonwealth of Independent States (formerly the Soviet Union) sources and flown by mercenary crews in attacks against Revolutionary United Front guerrillas.

These or additional Mi-24s are evidently still being operated on similar sorties, with stub wing-mounted AT-2 “Swatter” wire-guided antitank missiles, bombs, rocket pods, and a four-barrelled 0.5-in 9-A-624 rotary machine-gun firing at up to 5,000 rounds per minute in a chin-turret.

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