Tag Archives: Mi-24

Eastern Europe explores military helo options

UPDATED 27 January | Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic all are on the verge of replacing their fleets of Mil Mi-8/17 transport helicopters as well as Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters. Although each country seems to be heading down a different path, Bell Helicopter offers potentials for a joint program.

Update: according to Poland’s deputy defense minister on 26 January, a deal for Caracal helicopters now looks ‘very unlikely’.

In Poland, a multirole rotorcraft tender was won last year by Airbus Helicopters’ H225 Caracal, but after a change of government negotiations regarding offset investments are still ongoing. A spokesperson at Airbus Helicopters on Friday stated that ‘things seems to be moving in the right direction again’.

In the neighbouring Czech Republic, the air force flies 16 quite modern transport Mil Mi-171Sh helos, acquired from Russia in 2005 and recently upgraded with new communication, navigation and electrooptical equipment. The Czechs expect their Mi-171s to be used for at least one more decade, after which new helos will take their place as well as the place of current Mi-24 attack choppers. The new helicopters must be able to carry six to eight soldiers and be fitted out with guns plus guided and unguided rockets.

The Mi-17 Hip has a long heritage. (Image © Paweł Bondaryk)
The Mi-17 Hip has a long heritage. (Image © Paweł Bondaryk)

Czech offers

Previous plans of buying 12 machines are now revised in favour of a larger batch of 30-35 helicopters, due to better funding available in short term. Last year Czech MoD issued an request for information (RFI) to manufacturers of medium multirole helicopters; all Western producers responded with offers. Italian AgustaWestland offered the AW139, while Bell Helicopters is offering a tandem of its UH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z Viper used by the United States Marines Corps (USMC). Airbus Helicopters will most probably offer the Caracal just like it did in Poland, or the nine ton AS532ALe Cougar.

A preselection of preferred candidates is expected during the first half of 2016, with first deliveries planned a year or two later. Taking into account the strong presence of Bell Helicopters on the Czech civil rotorcraft market and police aviation using five Bell 412 helicopters, the UH-1Y is seen as strong contender. Bell in its offer underscores the possibility of establishing a joint Czech-Polish maintenance and training center if Poland also selects the Viper as a future attack chopper.

A US Marines UH-1Y Venom in action (Image © Bell Helicopter)
Also on offer: the UH-1Y. (Image © Bell Helicopter)
The AH-1Z Viper (Image © Bell Helicopter)
The AH-1Z Viper (Image © Bell Helicopter)
On offer: the Agusta Westland AW139. (Image © Paweł Bondaryk)
On offer: the Agusta Westland AW139. (Image © Paweł Bondaryk)

Support

As for industrial offset, there’s rather small chance of licence production of selected type in Czech Republic, but some overhaul capabilities may be handed over to Czech industry. AgustaWestland has already signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with LOM Praha for maintenance support, provided AW139 is selected.

Slovakia

There’s no official news about a Sikorsky offer to the Czech yet, but it may be either S-70i, or UH-60M. Next door to the Czech Republic, Slovakia decided to acquire nine Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawks through US FMS program. Four out of nine are to be delivered before May 2017.

In the meantime, there is already one Bell AH-1 in Czech Republic – albeit an unarmed TAH-1P. The chopper is owned by Heliczech company, and can be seen at the airshows in country quite often.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com contributor Paweł Bondaryk
Featured image: A Czech Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter strikes a pose. (Image © Paweł Bondaryk)

Up close with a Airbus Helicopters H225M Caracal. (Image © Anthony Pecchi)
Up close with a Airbus Helicopters H225M Caracal. (Image © Anthony Pecchi)

Russian Army helicopter unit Armenia up to speed

The Russian Army Aviation Squadron at Erebuni Airbase in Armenia is now fully up to speed. The last helicopters that arrived in December 2015 have been assembled, and are now added to the fleet.

With the final choppers ready for action the squadron at Erebuni tends to keep 10 attack and assault helicopters operational at all times, comprising a mixed fleet of Mil Mi-24 Hinds and Mi-8 Hips, according to a statement of the Russian Ministry of Defence. The goal is to have a total of 18 Mi-24P (Hind-F) and Mi-8MT/SMVs at the base, with some of those held in reserve.

The squadron pilots are now flight testing and commenced training on the latest machines, flying at 300 to more than 10,000 feet in various weather conditions on different mission types, day and night. Steady part of the training is conducting combat simulation in mountainous areas.

The 3624th Air Base Erebuni is also home to a Russian Air Force squadron which aims to have up to sixteen MiG-29 on strength, as well as much of the small Armenian Air Force. The base and civilian airport is located nearby the Armenian capital of Yerevan, at 3,000 feet above sea level and surrounded by a mountain range.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): A Russian Mi-24 practicing on a range in Russia, released 14 September (Image © Russian Ministry of Defence)

‘Anonymous’ Russian Sukhois fly in Syria

The day after Russia ‘officially’ started combat mission over Syria, the first clear images of the various fighter aircraft at Latakia airbase have started to appear. Most notable thing on those images: the Russian identification markings on the Sukhois have disappeared, including the Russian red start and the aircraft’s serial numbers.

Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-25 “Frogfoot” ground attack aircraft, Su-24 “Fencer” bombers, Su-30 Flanker multi-role fighters and Su-34 Fullback bombers started arriving in Syria over a week ago. Mil Mi-24 and/or Mi-35 Hinds attack helos are also present, as well as Mi-17 Hip assault helicpters.

The military aircraft started operations this week, with Western watchers wondering what targets exactly the Russians are aiming at. Despite Moscow claiming to fight ISIS, the 28 to 34 aircraft Russia has moved to Syria apparently also target other groups opposing the current Assad government. Reports have come in of bombing in areas that Western intelligence services claim have no ISIS activity whatsoever.

The short term ‘good’ thing about it for Western nations and their allies is that Russian aircraft seem to concentrate their bombings in the western parts of Syria, where there is less activity by the many fighter jets of the US-led Operations Inherent Resolve that engage ISIS forces further away from the Syrian coast and the capital Damascus.

The removal of markings could very well be to help deniability when one of the planes get shot down – ironically a very real possibility given the large umber of Russia-supplied air defense weapons in the area, not to mention Western aircraft flying around also.

The Russians are known to remove nationality markings in sensitive surroundings, like earlier in Eastern Ukraine. And ‘sensitive’ surely describes the current situation in and over Syria.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest and Marcel Burger
Featured image: The Su-34 bomber from the October 2014 batch (Image © Sukhoi Company)

Russia bases expeditionary combat unit in Syria

UPDATE 21 September | Russia is beefing up its military presence in Syria in such a way that it will be able to operate from an airhead independently with proper defences both in the air and on the ground.

UPDATE | Recent satellite images seem to confirm the presence of at least twelve Su-25 Frogfoots and four Su-30 Flanker in Syria. See image below. US sources say 12 Sukhoi Su-24 Fencers are in Syria as well.

Basid al-Assad Airbase is since Friday home to four Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30 Flanker multi-role fighters, strengthening the eight helicopters (Mi-24 “Hind” attack and Mi-17 “Hip” assault choppers) that were delivered by cargo planes earlier, according to US military sources. The field is located 12 miles (20 km) south from the strategic important port of Latakia, a city that is controlled by the Syrian government army.

Syrian, Russian and American sources report that Russian engineers have started to lengthen the runways, pave parking areas for aircraft and ground equipment and improve other infrastructure on the base, which recently have seen the flow of small numbers of up to one or two dozen main battle tanks, mobile artillery and at least 30 to 40 infantry BTR-type fighting vehicles / armoured personnel carriers. Amongst the Russian aircraft seen landing at Basid al-Assad were Antonov AN-124 Ruslan (“Condor”) and Ilyushin IL-76 (“Candid”) strategic airlifters.

According to the Pentagon 500 Russian marines are inside Syria, while Russia is said to have moved pre-fab housing to the airbase to serve as the living quarters of 2,000 personnel. Officially all Russian forces are there to “advise” Syria, but several military sources think an increased Russian presence will fight side-by-side with the Syrian government army against the many rebel factions opposing the current regime.

Meanwhile the US-led coalition continues to bomb so-called Islamic State forces positions further east in Syria, and in Iraq, with the Royal Australian Air Force and the French Air Force recently expanding their operations also into Syrian air space.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: Archive photo of a Russian Air Force Su-27SM3 performing at the Zhukovsky airshow in August 2012 (Image (CC) Alan Wilson)

Ukraine improving aircraft self-defence

Ukraine is trying to improve the self-defence capabilities of its Mi-24 (“Hind”) and Mi-8 (“Hip”) helicopters. Specialists of the State Scientific Testing Center of the Armed Forces of Ukraine together with business partner MS Avia-Hreyd have field tested the new Adros KUV 26-50 decoy system on a Mi-24P helicopter, the Ukrainian MInistry of Defence confirmed on 24 June 2014.

The new system was tested during five flights lasting a total of two hours. The indigenous designed self-protection system is meant to make the Ukrainian military independent from foreign suppliers, such as former friend and new enemy Russia. Once successful Ukraine aimes to implement the Adros on not only its Mil Mi-24 and Mi-8 helicopters flown by the Army, but also by the Antonov AN-26 tactical airlifters of the Air Force.

During the conflict with the pro-Russian rebel and regular Russian military forces in the eastern part of the country, the Ukraine military lost many aircraft and helicopters last year due to ground-launched and shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles. The new decoy system is a small hope of improving the situation on the war front, so that the aviation components of the Ukrainian military can be used more effectively with less loss of aircraft and crew.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: The Mil Mi-24P with the Akros decoy system during a break in the field tests performed in June 2015 (Image © Ukraine Ministry of Defence)

OVERVIEW OF AIRCRAFT LOSSES BY HOSTILE FIRE, ARMED FORCES OF UKRAINE
(compiled by Airheadsfly.com based on official sources)