The legend of army aviation
Material posted: Publication date: 16-07-2016
15 July 1982, during the Afghan campaign of 1979-1989, the second phase of the Panjshir operation. A special role in this military conflict was played by the pilots of army aviation. Today, helicopter pilots are an important part of the operation against the militants in Syria. "Газета.Ru" tells how during the war in Afghanistan, the Russian General showed miracles in piloting the Mi-8 helicopter.

The second stage of the Panjshir operation of the Afghan campaign of 1979-1989 began on 15 July 1982. The aim of the operation in Kapisa province was the defeat of the enemy in Pangshura gorge with air support and artillery. A special role in the upcoming battles was given to the pilots of army aviation under the command of Vitaly Pavlov.

The area of the gorge Pandsher was during the Afghan war supply center for the rebel forces of the Northern and Central provinces of the country with arms and ammunition. Through it passed the main caravan route from Pakistan to Badakhshan, Baghlan, Kapisa, Parwan.

To participate in the operation were involved in 20 Soviet and Afghan battalions totaling over 10 thousand people. The operation was carried out by the chief of staff of the 40th army major General Norat Ter-Grigoryants.

Key indicators operations: total depth of 200-250 km, the width of the strip, taking into account the actions of aviation and artillery, 60-80 km, the duration of the main phase of the operation — 20 days. The main features of the operation was massive use of tactical air landing a total population of over 4.5 thousand people in the entire depth of the operation. The mountainous terrain allowed insurgents to establish a wide network of defensive structures with mutually overlapping sectors of fire. The presence of the enemy a large number of anti-aircraft hampers the use of aircraft, especially helicopters.

In this strategically important gorge in the northeast of Afghanistan (the provinces of Kapisa and Parwan) completely dominated armed groups under the command of the already famous in the times of Ahmad Shah Massoud. This Afghan field commander, known by the nickname lion of Panjshir at the time was only 29 years old. A group of rebels in Pandsher counted more than 30 armed groups that employ over 5 thousand people.


First the Panjshir operation, which along with the units and formations of the 40th army was attended by Afghan government forces, was conducted in the period from 17 may to 10 June 1982. Then, with heavy losses of our troops were captured major strongholds of spooks. However, to keep them for a long period of time, departments and units of the 40th army was not possible. In the Panjshir operations to create the necessary superiority in manpower over the enemy was exposed the protection and defence of important administrative and political centers of Afghanistan. Long to hold them without covering the command of the 40th army did not think it possible. Therefore, the units and upon completion of the operation were withdrawn from the Panjshir valley. The void was immediately filled with groups of armed Afghan opposition.

For the second Panjshir operation was created a powerful group of the air force. It consisted of more than 100 helicopters and about 50 aircraft.

Some of them were recruited from airfields permanent base in the territory of the Soviet Union. To lead the aviation group was assigned to Vitaly Pavlov, at that time Colonel, the commander of the 50-th separate mixed aviation regiment, based in Kabul. Colonel Pavlov by that time was already a legendary figure, known not only in the Armed forces of the USSR, but in the ranks of the enemy.

For the successful holding of the first Panjshir operation he was presented to the high title of Hero of the Soviet Union, and the Ahmad Shah ranked him to become their personal enemies.

Panjshir valley through the efforts of Ahmad Shah has been turned into a stronghold of armed groups of the Afghan opposition in the northeast of the country with her, and a very skilled defense system. To block the advance of our units to the depth of the gorge, the rebels organized a system of defence for dominant heights. More than a hundred strongholds they occupied, carefully prepared in engineering terms, with the purpose to resist the blows of aviation and artillery. The intervals between them shoots fire from small arms and mortars. Was organized by the United air defense system, controlled by radio from a single center. In the gorge there were stores of weapons, ammunition and medical supplies, hospitals, prisons and recreation centres.

Through the pass, closing the valley to the North-East, from Pakistan river was a weapon, Restickables then across Afghanistan. Had the spooks and well-established system of intelligence gathering. From observers from the local community and ending with the senior officials of the party Central Committee, the Ministry of defence and the government. Therefore, the statement of Ahmad Shah that "no one leg of the Soviets set foot on the territory under its control", was not without Foundation.

Vitaly Pavlov, using the data of our intelligence, understand where the defense system of the enemy is the most vulnerable place. It was a small airfield Evim (Sahran), beyond the pass, in a stone basin near the Pakistani border.

There the helicopters secretly from Pakistan carrying weapons, which supplied the rebel army, Massoud. The difficulty was that the seizure and subsequent destruction of the airfield Evim was necessary to overcome the pass a height of about 5 thousand meters. The Mi-8 helicopters with troops, with great difficulty, were still able to do it. But the shock Mi-24 helicopters used in these cases to cover the amphibious transport Mi-8, it was not under force. Then Pavlov decided


use the results of the strikes of fighter-bombers on the identified targets on the route and near the enemy airfield and under cover to arrange the passage of helicopters through the pass and landing.

Air force commander of the 40th army, General Vladimir Kanakin this resolution was approved, and early in the morning on 16 July, a convoy of 46 amphibious transport helicopters Mi-8 headed 28-year-old major Anatoliy Surtsukov went to Evim. Air operations from aircraft transponder An-26РТ was led by Colonel Pavlov.

The crews of Mi-8 had a very hard time. They carried out a long flight over a mountain range at high altitude, in extremely rarefied air, the body armor, which in those days weighed about 16 kg, at the limit of the machine, loaded with troops, with the constant risk of being attacked from the ground. It is required that flight crews of large costs of physical and moral strength.

In accordance with the plan of operation required in a short time make a landing more than 2 thousand people. A day each crew had three-four times for about two hours, and in extreme conditions. But the pilots survived these, without exaggeration, overload.

The success of the fighting were provided with good physical and psychological training that is conducted with flight crews at the time. Each flight was compounded by the fact that in the landing area, in a mountain formation, representing a stone pot with a width of about 1 km, worn at multiple echelons of the heights of dozens of attack aircraft, fighter cover, helicopters landing group. And it is in the dusty air from the explosions of bombs, rockets, shells Aviapark, from which visibility, as pilots say, sit down to a minimum.

Only carefully designed Vitaly Pavlov plan and precise implementation of the items allowed crews to avoid collisions in the air.

The approach to the airfield Evim was only possible from one direction, and from the gorge. As, however, and out of it. Therefore, a column of troops on the helicopters was like a conveyor belt or escalator in the subway, when the ring moving machine, at the mouth of the gorge moving towards each other.

As it turned out, in this narrowest point, which is absolutely impossible to get around, located the surviving anti-aircraft gun that fired at helicopters of the group. Lucky our helicopter pilots and paratroopers because of the whole calculation setup alive after clearing the aircraft the landing there was only one aircraft gunner. Then they took him prisoner, and he proved to be a valuable source of information.
For the first time in this operation was used proposed by Pavlov in such a way that clearance of the airfield, as the use of attack aircraft volume-detonating bombs odab-500. This allowed to quickly and effectively defuse literally Packed with anti-personnel mines, large land area, without which the use of a landing would be impossible.

Landing, capture the airfield Evim (Sahran) made it possible to deprive the enemy of the flow of reserves and the necessary means of warfare, contributed to the overall success of the operation. In the future, the aviation group, led by Vitali Pavlov, successfully fulfilled all the tasks set to it, by making a significant contribution to the conquest of strategically important areas, which predetermined the success of the campaign of 1982 in Afghanistan.

At the final stage of operation one of the helicopters group crashed near the village of Anab, located at the entrance to the Panjshir valley. The Mi-8 helicopter caught in a left rotation due to the loss of spatial position by the crew, and received such damage that to fix it.

Prompting the evacuation of combat vehicles. Then Vitaly Pavlov on the same type of Mi-8 took the crashed helicopter on external load, and with great difficulty, the incredible strength of the machine and its pilot opportunities have taken emergency helicopter to the Bagram airfield. Spooks, watch this picture from the slopes of the gorge through the sights of his heavy machine guns DShK, not even shoot him, although the helicopter Pavlov floated at the minimum speed literally in front of their nose. Apparently

the rebels wanted to see if this Shaytan-Arba, as they called the helicopter to literally pull out hair another the same machine.

But if the helicopter goes down, so Allah helped him, not otherwise. And to go against the will of Allah devout Muslim does not.

The second Panjshir operation destroyed more than 5 thousand of the rebels. However, units of the 40th army had suffered substantial losses — were killed, 92 fighter and commander and injured 340 people.

In the future, Vitaliy Pavlov will do more in Afghanistan, more than 300 sorties, flew more than five hundred hours, and still fight in Chechnya, Tajikistan, Transnistria and other hot spots. Become a Hero of the Soviet Union, the first and only commander of the army aviation of the country. His efforts of army aviation to reach the highest level of its development.

Mikhail Khodarenok



Tags: Afghanistan , USSR