Satellite imagery shows that 21 russian helicopters have been relocated to an airbase in Taganrog, russia, following a Ukrainian strike on Berdiansk airport on October 17, 2023. The helicopters are believed to be the same ones that were stationed at Berdiansk before the strike.
Military analyst Brady Africk posted the satellite image on X, noting that the helicopters were withdrawn from Berdiansk less than two weeks after the strike. This suggests that the Ukrainian military was able to inflict significant damage on the russian airbase in Berdiansk, and that the russian military is now trying to relocate its aircraft to safer locations.
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This image allows to assess only the fact of the sudden appearance of such a large number of helicopters at the russian base in Taganrog, which was previously used as a platform for Su-25SM3. It is unclear whether the helicopters were damaged in the strike and transported to Taganrog by land, or whether they flew there on their own.
However, the relocation of the helicopters to Taganrog suggests that russia is still operating a large number of attack helicopters in the region, and that it is concerned about the vulnerability of its airbases in Ukraine. The relocation of the helicopters could also be a sign that russia is planning to launch new attacks on Ukrainian forces in other areas.
The Ka-52 attack helicopter has a claimed practical range of 480 kilometers, which means that it could still reach the front lines from Taganrog, despite the slightly longer distance. However, the relocation of the helicopters to Taganrog would allow russia to keep its helicopters closer to the front lines, which would reduce the flight time and make it easier to support troops on the ground.
It is also possible that russia is using Taganrog as a repair and staging base for its attack helicopters. This would allow russia to keep its helicopters in service for longer, and to quickly deploy them to new areas if needed.
The russian military may be using an airbase in Taganrog as a repair and staging base for its attack helicopters, but this is still just an assumption. The Taganrog airbase has an aircraft repair plant, but it is not known if it is equipped to repair attack helicopters. Further observations and satellite imagery will be needed to confirm or refute this assumption.