The heavy demands on Russian rotary wing assets and the lack of spare parts are a recipe for disaster. MI-8 Hip crews typically fly over 130 flying hours a month, while MI-24 Hind crews rack up 80 to 90 hours a month. For example, army helicopters flew a total of about 30 missions over the 10-11 November period. During that period, a MI-24 Hind crew on a combat mission en route from Khankala to Ersenoi spotted two rebel caravans and destroyed them (killing three rebels).
However, the Russians are still dealing with an aggressive missile threat. The rebels use their accomplices to track helicopter flights and then set up firing positions very close to the Russians' temporary staging areas. The army aviation command has ordered that helicopter crews use anti-missile maneuvers while in the vicinity of the Khankala base and 42nd Motorized Rifle Division posts. Helicopter crews also attended additional training last week.
Russian intelligence thinks that the Grozny emir Dzhambulat Samkhadov has allocated $100,000 for the purchase of MANPADS (particularly Strela-2M missiles). They also think the rebels around Urus-Martan are equipped with about five SAM systems. - Adam Geibel
Another Mi-24 "Hind" helicopter gunship crashed in Chechnya around 11.00, near the Tolsty Yurt village. An investigation has been started, but the initial opinion is that the crash was the result of mechanical failure and not ground fire. The crew is alive and a rescue party picked them up.