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​Meet the Ukrainian Missile Operator Who Took Down Ka-52 Helicopter with a Javelin

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Yevhen, call sign Maiak, is a serviceman of the 36th Marine Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine / Still image credit: Ukrainian Navy
Yevhen, call sign Maiak, is a serviceman of the 36th Marine Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine / Still image credit: Ukrainian Navy

The historic Javelin shot was performed by a soldier who hadn't seen combat until the outbreak of russian invasion

Press service of the Ukrainian Navy has published an interview with Yevhen, an ATGM operator who landed the famed hit on a russian Ka-52 attack helicopter using an FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank weapon. Defense Express has earlier discussed the theoretical and practical aspects of this shot, this time we'd like to highlight Yevhen's personal experience as it turns out, he enlisted as a volunteer for service already after the start of the russian invasion in 2022, just a year before his feat.

As he shared in the interview, Yevhen (in other sources known by his call sign Maiak) joined the military in April 2022, and after two months of training, became an anti-tank weapons operator. At first, the soldier had no combat experience at all, and had to learn the ropes in battle and learn from mistakes: "how to properly approach the target, how to lock on it, how to choose a firing spot, and so on."

Read more: New Details on the Historial Downing of Ka-52 Helicopter With Javelin ATGM: When Mastery Meets Right Moment
Yevhen shows one of the Javelins he used to take down a russian T-72 / Defense Express / Meet the Ukrainian Missile Operator Who Took Down Ka-52 Helicopter with a Javelin
Yevhen shows one of the Javelins he used to take down a russian T-72 / Still image credit: Ukrainian Navy

Currently the commander of an ATGM company, he has seen many battles, most notable in the eastern and then southern parts of the country.

When repelling the assaults on Avdiivka in spring 2023, he had to partake in risky missions in order to protect the infantry holding the defense lines. The city of the eastern front was by that time already half-encircled by the russian forces, and their assaults were coming one after another.

"We were covering the infantry, so that the enemy's armored combat vehicles didn't reach our infantry units. We had to go on sorties to various spots, put ourselves in danger but, on the other hand, we realized that if we don't strike that BTR (armored personnel carrier - ed.) or tank, they will get to our positions and eliminate our infantry. We had to make that decision and put ourselves in front of the infantry."

Yevhen operatinghis FGM-148 Javelin ATGM, archive photo published in April 2023 / Defense Express / Meet the Ukrainian Missile Operator Who Took Down Ka-52 Helicopter with a Javelin
Yevhen operating his FGM-148 Javelin ATGM, archive photo published in April 2023 / Photo credit: 36th Marine Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

One time, he recalls, their unit faced a column of over a dozen russian armored vehicles and took down four of them, two tanks and two IFVs. The episode was even reported in the media.

/ Defense Express / Meet the Ukrainian Missile Operator Who Took Down Ka-52 Helicopter with a Javelin
russian armored column on fire after a successful ambush by Yevhen and his comrades, photo published May 2023 / Photo credit: ArmyInform

In the south, in contrast, russian forces were more careful and only deployed on the spot for about 10 seconds to make a few shots and leave, leaving the ATGM groups no time to react. The minefields were a problem, too, Yevhen says.

As for his Javelin and the famous strike, he adds a few previously unknown details about the episode that still amazes almost a year later. Firstly, turns out the Ka-52 helicopter was not the only one present at the time. In fact, Yevhen pulled out the missile system when he saw two choppers flying past his squad but did not manage to prepare the weapon and lock on the target in time. Luckily, soon the third helicopter appeared, and the Javelin was ready to engage. This detail also highlights that the decision to target the Ka-52 wasn't spontaneous, and the ATGM operator knew well the capabilities of his weapon.

In fact, the Javelin's manual provides an algorithm for engaging aerial targets / Defense Express / Meet the Ukrainian Missile Operator Who Took Down Ka-52 Helicopter with a Javelin
In fact, the Javelin's manual provides an algorithm for engaging aerial targets / Open-source image

The missile hit the tail but the rotorcraft left the field of view. The kill on target was confirmed the next day.

Yevhen praises the FGM-148 Javelin as a "very smart" weapon. In particular, although advertised as "fire-and-forget," the system is meticulous about pre-launch target acquisition and doesn't even let the operator initiate the launch until the target is locked. The firepower is impressive, too, as he states that no russian slat armor managed to save their tanks from destruction by Javelin.

Illustrative photo: a russian T-72 tank with a slat armor cage and sandbags on top / Defense Express / Meet the Ukrainian Missile Operator Who Took Down Ka-52 Helicopter with a Javelin
Illustrative photo: a russian T-72 tank with a slat armor cage and sandbags on top / Open-source archive photo
Read more: The Turret Flew Away and Smashed the Asphalt: What Happens to russian Tank After a Shot from ATGM System