Russia redeploys Ka-52 and Mi-8 from Berdyansk to Taganrog after ATACMS strike
Russia seems to have decided to "cut back" on repairing its helicopters when threatened by Ukrainian air defense systems
A satellite image has appeared in the public domain, which shows the following – on October 31, 2023, the Russian invaders concentrated their 21 Ka-52 and Mi-8 helicopters at the Taganrog airbase.
It is alleged that these were the same helicopters that the Russian army kept at the airport of the temporarily occupied Berdyansk before the strike by the Ukrainian Defense Forces using ATACMS on 17 October 2023, and which were withdrawn as of 29 October this year, i.e. less than 2 weeks after the strike. Brady Africk, a military analyst, posted a relevant post on his Twitter profile.
This image allows us to assess only the fact of the sudden appearance of so many helicopters at the Russian base in Taganrog, which was previously used as a site for Su-25SM3. Accordingly, we cannot yet say whether the Russians brought these helicopters there by ground transport, due to the level of damage, or whether these helicopters flew there on their own.
If we assume that the Russian occupiers moved to Taganrog exactly those machines that retained their combat capability and think in geographical terms, it turns out that the Russian forces simply moved their attack helicopters to possibly support troops in other areas.
If we measure the distance to the front line from Taganrog to Volnovakha, it is up to 130 kilometres, and for comparison, the distance from the temporarily occupied Berdyansk to the front line in the Zaporizhzhia sector is approximately 120 kilometres, and this is despite the fact that the claimed practical range of the Ka-52 is up to 480 kilometres.
At the same time, another option should not be ruled out. That is, that Russia now wants to use Taganrog not only as a new take-off site for their attack helicopters, but also as a kind of "staging area" for repairing their army aircraft in the event of new ATACMS strikes by the Ukrainian Defence Forces against enemy airfields.
However, this is only an empirical assumption based on the fact that Taganrog has an aircraft repair plant, but its known specialization so far has been in the repair and maintenance of A-50 and A-50U radar patrol aircraft.
More accurate assumptions and conclusions will require further observations and new satellite imagery that will show further "migrations" of the Russian army aviation.