6 flights are successful, but more than 20 are not: what is known about the helicopter that flew to Azovstal
Ukrainian defenders held the defense of Mariupol at the Azovstal plant for exactly 2 months and 3 days. Our fighters were effectively cut off from supply lines and medicines. Few knew, but then our pilots came to their aid.
A 24-year-old officer of the Special Forces from the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine with the call sign “Ryzhiy” and Colonel Grigory told reporters about how Ukrainian pilots managed to do the impossible.
“Red” and another surviving pilot – the squadron commander and the GUR officer who helped plan the mission – revealed the details of the operation for the first time.
6 flights completed successfully, and more than 20 did not
“Ryzhiy” said that from March 21 to May 11, 2022, 15 helicopters and 45 crew members took part in almost 30 rescue missions at Azovstal. They delivered:
- and evacuated the wounded.
All subsequent departures looked like impudence on our part. The Russians were waiting for us. Every helicopter was fired upon, many were damaged,” Red said.
“Red” officer of the Special Forces with the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense / Photo by the Main Intelligence Directorate for the Times
Until April 5, the Russians tightened the noose around Azovstal. But the Ukrainians continued to carry out rescue missions despite the losses and the need to land so close to the Russians.
“We made a decision that each pilot would fly only once. We understood that after one flight he would have experience, know the route, know the approaches. But we also knew that most of this is luck,” Colonel Grigory explained .
Colonel Grigory – squadron commander of the 12th separate brigade of army aviation / Photo by Sergey Storozhev
About the last successful flight
“Redhead” told how he woke up one morning with a terrible premonition that their luck was running out. He boarded one of the reserve Mi-8s to be on the lookout for things that didn't go according to plan. Another pilot, Vyacheslav, was sitting at the helm of the second helicopter.
When the two main helicopters with the wounded were heading towards them from Azovstal, they lost contact with one of them. Before him was only 7 km. Vyacheslav went in search of survivors, taking the commander of the “Ryzhy” with him. They were just landing at the crash site when a rocket-propelled anti-tank grenade flew out from behind the trees and hit the helicopter.
Vyacheslav died, but the commander of the special forces and some of the crew managed to get out alive. Ginger says 23 people died in that accident. Local residents said that our other guys survived, but were hiding somewhere. This was the last successful flight.
When did you have to stop flying?
“Ryzhiy” noted that by May 11 more than 20 attempts had been made to reach Azovstal. But the infidels fortified the front line and brought troops there.
They illuminated us with searchlights and rockets. Fighters patrolled above us. Our pilots flew, saw the launch of two missiles, turned around, after five kilometers they tried to go in again, but the Russians launched missiles again, and the pilot understood that there was no chance of getting there, “Ryzhiy said.”
When the Ukrainians realized that they would not be able to break through, they stopped flying. This led to the order to end the defense of Azovstal on 20 May.
Note! Of the 15 helicopters involved in the operations, three were shot down. Yuriy, 34, Boris, 38, and Vyacheslav, 52, are pilots who never returned home. The editors of Channel 24 express their sincere condolences and words of gratitude to the Ukrainian pilots who died defending Ukraine. Everlasting memory!
I am very grateful to everyone who participated, and I am proud, proud of every member of the special forces who participated in the operational escort of these helicopters,” said Pavel, who also coordinated the operation developed by Kirill Budanov.
According to him, it seemed impossible, but the Ukrainian pilots showed that they do not leave anyone and will fight to the last of every Ukrainian.
Defense of Mariupol Essentials
- The defenders of Mariupol held their positions in the complete encirclement of Russian troops. During this time, they managed to destroy approximately 6 thousand invaders.
- At the same time, the invaders inflicted on the positions of our defenders at Azovstal several dozen strikes a day, using aircraft, tanks and heavy artillery.
- The Ukrainian authorities reported that the evacuation from the territory of the civilian plant ended on May 7. And the operation to rescue the blocked Ukrainian military at Azovstal began on May 16. Then 53 seriously wounded defenders were evacuated and taken to a medical facility in the occupied Novoazovsk.