MOSCOW, OCT. 23 -- Five Soviet generals were killed Monday in an unexplained helicopter crash, the armed forces newspaper Red Star said today. It said only that the generals perished "in an aviation catastrophe on Oct. 19 while fulfilling official duties."

The dead included a senior general staff officer, the chief of staff of Soviet forces based in Hungary and the deputy communications chief of the Soviet armed forces. Two general staff officers whose duties were not described and the helicopter's two-man crew also perished.

The newspaper did not give the location or cause of the accident, but the fact that it reported the generals' deaths in an air crash marked a notable departure from the traditional secrecy surrounding Soviet military affairs.

Col. Gen. Vladimir Shutov, 63, highest ranking victim, had served since 1975 as deputy chief of the armed forces general staff chief directorate.

Maj. Gen. Erlen Porfiryev, 51, had recently been appointed chief of staff of the southern group of forces based in Hungary.

Lt. Gen. Yuri Ryabinin, 53, held a responsible post on the general staff, Red Star said. Lt. Gen. Kirill Trofimov, 66, was the military's deputy chief of communications since 1977. Maj. Gen. Vladimir Bardashevsky, 49, was recently assigned to the general staff.