Mi-24 helicopters (in NATO classification called Hind, and in Russia nicknamed Crocodile of its fighting capability) were and are effectively operated in flashpoints all over the world where they have proven their indispensability as a reliable and universal weapon. Helicopter operators especially value Mi-24 for its powerful and high precision armament and reliable armor.
Mi-24 type helicopters have unique experience of operation in high temperature conditions. They are reliable, easy to maintain, provided with an impressive weapon variety and also extraordinary suited for operation in extreme climate conditions. For example in Africa after a long monsoon rains period the helicopters frequently stored outside special hangars were easily started and sent for operations. Not all combat helicopters have as big safety factor.
People make legends about indestructibility of Russian “Flying tank” on African continent. Many compare its reliability and easy maintenance with famous Kalashnikov machine gun. For decades the fearful “Crocodiles” have been participating in all serious armed conflicts on African continent. This list includes: civil wars in Angola and Côte d’Ivoire, conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea where the 24th’s were vastly applied by both parties, Second Congolese war in which Congo, Ruanda, Namibia and Zimbabwe have participated. So, in a word, the list of African states, which have their own fleet of 24th’s, is quite impressive.
The 24th’s have participated in practically all UN peacekeeping operations in Africa. The activity of Russian helicopters has received high international evaluation. The most noted parameters were their combat effectiveness and operational reliability. The task of combat helicopters was providing security for UN personnel by means of land convoys air escorting, performing search and rescue missions, patrol and reconnaissance flights, airmobile operations of UN military contingent. From 2000 to 2005 Russian military contingent, consisting of 100 pilots, operators, specialists of engineering staff and four Mi-24 was maintaining peace in Sierra-Leone and Republic of Chad. In the course of next years a small Russian air force helicopter squad was solving peacekeeping tasks in Sudan.
The analysis of information received from experience of 24th’s operation allowed to perform further improvement and modernization of this legendary helicopter. Despite a habit to operate 24th’s the African continent is now shifting for purchase of new Russian weapons, and in particular a deep modernization of Mi-24 into Mi-35M variant.
Mi-24th’s modification and successful implementation of this idea provided for an opportunity for a legendary aircraft to seep into the new millennium and find a decent place in modern combat aviation. All-weather Mi-35M helicopter is being manufactured serially at the Rostvertol plant (Southern Russia) which is a part of Russian Helicopters JSC since 2010.
The Mi-35M is an attack helicopter complex equipped with modern high-precision weapons of round-the-clock application.
The aircraft has been designed to destroy armored vehicles, provision of fire support to land forces. Mi-35M has several application versions: attack, troop carrier, ambulance and transport. This makes it capable to effectively perform a big scope of tasks. As a troop carrier, it can accommodate up to 8 fully armed paratroopers in the cargo cabin. As an ambulance helicopter, it can provide for transportation of 2 stretcher cases and 2 seated wounded casualties accompanied by one medical attendant. During cargo transportation, Mi-35M can transport up to 1500 kg inside the cargo compartment or 2400 kg on external sling.
Technologies used on the new-generation Mi-28N helicopter were incorporated in the design and manufacture of Mi-35M helicopter. As a result, the Mi-35M has received a new rotor system with composite-material blades. The advanced blade profile improves the helicopter performance and the composite materials provide for the longer life and higher combat survivability. X-shaped tail rotor provides the helicopter with higher controllability together with lower noise level. Mi-35M has a shortened wing equipped with a built-in cargo hoist and new store racks.
Helicopter combat survivability and crew protection are provided due to steel plates armouring of:
- Accessory drive gear box.
- Oil tanks of engines.
- Main gear box section.
- Hydraulic units.
- Partition between Pilot’s and Operator’s compartment.
- Pilot seat: armoured backrest and armoured headrest.
The undisputable advantage of the Mi-35M is its round-the-clock combat application. The helicopter is equipped with a modern navigation complex and electronic indication with multi-functional colored displays, surveillance-sight system. Mi-35M helicopter Lights system is adopted for application of night vision goggles by the crew.
Mi-35M is equipped with a modern armament complex which includes non-removable flexible gun installation with two barreled 23mm gun, guided missile armament (anti tank missile complex with Shturm and Ataka missiles), unguided rocket armament (B8V20-A pods carrying 80 mm C-8 type airborne rockets), suspended gun armament (up to two UP-23-250 containers with 23mm guns).
Optional equipment can be installed on the helicopter depending on missions and operational conditions:
- Upgraded ОPS-24N-1L surveillance-sighting system
- Аtаkа anti-tank guided missiles with laser guidance system;
- Strelets complex with Igla-S air-to-air missiles
- Equipment for air routes and instrument landing system.
- S-13 unguided rockets
- President-S countermeasure system.
The first purchaser of this helicopter was Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Later on Mi-35M were purchased by Brazil. Combat helicopters are used in Latin America to patrol the air space and provide an air support in fighting the border intruders. Apart from Latin America, Mi-35Ms are supplied to the Middle East countries, CIS and Russian MOD. Many other countries show their interest in these aircraft