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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Attack Helicopter Crashes, One Dead




A top-of-the-line Russian Black Shark military attack helicopter has crashed, killing an experienced general who was piloting the craft, military officials said Thursday.


A Defense Ministry spokesman said Major General Boris Vorobyov died when a Ka-50 Black Shark helicopter -- one of the prides of Russia's arms export offerings -- crashed at an air base Wednesday night in the Tver region, northwest of Moscow.


The helicopter's main rotor sections were ripped off as Vorobyov was testing the Black Shark at a very low altitude of 50 meters to 70 meters, Interfax reported, citing the Defense Ministry.


"It has flown reliably for five years and there were no such instances before, so of course this is a blow to us and we don't yet have an explanation," said Venyamin Kastyanikov, deputy general constructor at the Kamov helicopter manufacturer who helped design the Ka-50. "Experts are now gathering information and studying the situation."


The menacing helicopter is armed with a series of machine guns and high-tech missile launchers. Kamov has developed an export version of the helicopter with Israel and prospective buyers include Turkey, Finland and Sweden.


"It could be more difficult to work after this incident as people may raise some questions about the technology," Kastyanikov said.


The Russian military has just a handful of the Ka-50s and plans to purchase more this year.