Tag Archives: Russian Army Aviation

45 Years of fearsome Flying Tank

Czech Air Force Mi-35 Hind (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Czech Air Force Mi-35 Hind (Image © Dennis Spronk)

The year 2014 is littered with celebrations of first flights of what have become legendary aircraft. Airheadsfly.com started with 40 years of F-16, moved on to 40 years of Tornado, reported on 60 years of C-130 Hercules and now 45 years of Mi-24 combat helicopter, nicknamed the Flying Tank but most commonly known by its NATO-reporting name: Hind.

On 19 September 1969 test pilot German Alferov took to the air for the first time the prototype of what would become the Western world’s and anti-Soviet rebels most feared air asset. Made with international tensions nearing one of the highest points of modern history, the assault and attack helicopter was developed in roughly more than a year – a record. Thanks not only to the pressure by the government of the then Soviet Union that is now Russia and many other states, but also thanks to the research and guidance by chief-designer Mikhail Mil who’s family name is still serving many of the world’s rotary craft.

The Mi-24 prototype in 1969 (Image © Russian Helicopters)
The Mi-24 prototype in 1969 (Image © Russian Helicopters)

Components
To make serial production at Rostvertol in Rostov-on-Don and Progress Arsenyev Aviation Plant in Russia’s Far East quickly possible, Mil’s designers and technicians used a lot of components already in use for the Mi-8 transport helicopter and the Mi-14 anti-submarine chopper already coming of the production line. Together with the Moscow Mil Helicopter Plant all three companies would many decades later merge into Russian Helicopters, as part of the Russian State weapons corporation Rostec’s daughter organisation Oboronprom.

The Mi-24A, the first version of the legendary Hind (Image © Russian Helicopters)
The Mi-24A, the first version of the legendary Hind (Image © Russian Helicopters)
Raised from the archives was this Polish Mi-24D. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Raised from our archives was this Polish Mi-24D. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Records
Once introduced the Mi-24 set records, in 1975 alone eight for speed and lifting by test pilots Galina Rastorgueva and Lyudmila Polyanskaya. Three years later test pilot Gurgen Karapetyan recorded the highest speed by any helicopter at that time: 198.9 knots (368.4 kmh).

Since its introduction more than 3,500 Mi-24 and derivatives have been produced, with the type in service in 40 countries worldwide including some of the former Warsaw Pact forces turned into NATO allies, like the Czech Air Force, the Hungarian Air Force plus the Polish Air and Land Forces.

From our specialized 'rarities departement': a Cuban Mi-24D Hind. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
From our specialized ‘rarities department’: a Cuban Mi-24 Hind D. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Former Czech Mi-24s destined for the new Iraqi Army Avation seen in 2014 at the LOM Praha overhaul and maintenance plant in Prague (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Former Czech Mi-24s destined for the new Iraqi Army Avation seen in 2014 at the LOM Praha overhaul and maintenance plant in Prague (Image © Dennis Spronk)

The newest Hind version, the Mi-35M, went into serial production in 2005. It is the helicopter that is today supplied to the Russian Army Aviation Regiments, but also to many other countries including Brazil. What the Kalashnikov became for small arms, the Mi-24/Mi-35 became for rotary wing warfare: the probably most reliable, relatively affordable and still fearsome weapon of its class on today’s battlefield.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, based on source information provided by Russian Helicopters

The Hungarian Air Force made a habit of painting up Hinds for airshows. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Hungarian Air Force made a habit of painting up Hinds for airshows. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

"When

A bunch of Mi-24PNs (Image © Russian Helicopters)
A bunch of Mi-24PNs (Image © Russian Helicopters)
Two Czech Air Force Hinds is better than one Czech Air Force Hind. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Two Czech Air Force Hinds is better than one Czech Air Force Hind. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
An Ukrainian Army Aviation Mi-24 Hind being loaded into a Antonov AN-124 (Ruslan) for the UN mission in Liberia (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
An Ukrainian Army Aviation Mi-24 Hind being loaded into a Antonov AN-124 (Ruslan) for the UN mission in Liberia (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
A Brazilian Hind. The country received its first Mi-35M Hinds in April 2010. (Image © Ralph Blok)
The Brazilian Air Force received its first Mi-35M in April 2010. The type is designated as AH-2 Sabre in Brazilian service. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Just saying 'Hi(nd)!' (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Just saying ‘Hi(nd)!’ (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Russia turns up the volume on the Baltic borders

A pair of Russian Kamom Ka-52 Alligators (Image © Russian Helicopters)
A pair of Russian Kamom Ka-52 Alligators (Image © Russian Helicopters)

The Russian Army has turned up the volume to put some pressure on the Baltic countries Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Since this week a new attack / assault helicopter brigade is buzzing NATO’s eastern flank from Ostrov Airbase, about 20 miles (32 km) east of the border with Latvia.

The formerly run-down, reserve base has been gearing up ever since December 2013, when the 15th Army Aviation Brigade was officially formed at Ostrov. Since this week three helicopter squadrons operating tens of attack and assault/transport helicopters apparently make daily training flights, according to several reports we received.

Attack
One squadron operates the Mil Mi-28N Night Hunter, a second the Kamov Ka-52 Alligator. Both are splendid attack helicopters that you don’t want to face if your on the other side of the battlefield.

Lift
The third squadron operates the Mil Mi-26T heavy-lift choppers as well as Mil Mi-8MTV-5s, bringing a great supply line to any forward operating units. The Russian Western Military District earlier said it will bring Ostrov’s 15th AAB up to a total of five squadrons – not disclosing yet what the additional two units will fly for type of aircraft.

Strategically
The proximity of Ostrov to the rest of Europe brings the capitals of the Baltic states plus Finland – and there military facilities, within striking distance of large and in theory formidable attack helicopter force. Centrally and strategically located Riga – the capital of Latvia – can be reached in about an hour. No wonder the Baltic states have become a bit more nervous lately about the Russian pressure on their doorstep.

Dough
NATO’s secretary general pleaded as late as last week again for alliance’s member states to put more dough into their military, while non-NATO members Sweden and Finland are getting closer to tighter military cooperation between the two of them.

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger


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Ukraine-Russian stand-off Kherson: Situation Report

A pair of armed Ukrainian Army Aviation Mi-8 tactical helicopters. Archive photo (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
A pair of armed Ukrainian Army Aviation Mi-8 tactical helicopters. Archive photo.
(Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)

LATEST UPDATE 16 MARCH 07:45 UTC | Russian and Ukrainian forces were at a military stand-off Saterday 15 March 2014 in the Kherson region, just north of the disputed Crimean peninsula. Both sides admitted being involved in the deployment of air and ground assets in the area, although Russia kept it much vaguer than Ukraine.

Apparently about 60 to 80 Russian troops tried to take control of the strategically located village of Strilkove, just north of the Crimean peninsula on a 2 km (1.2 mile) thin long piece of coastal land leading to mainland Ukraine. The Russians deployed at least 3 armoured vehicles and 2 to 4 armed helicopters. Some sources say they were of the Mi-24 or Mi-28 attack type, but that is unconfirmed.

According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence its country scrambled troops to the region the size of an Air Mobile Battalion. Reinforcements might have flown in from units deployed to the military airfield in the town of Kherson, just northwest of the confrontation location. Some sources say they had air support from helicopters, which is likely to have come in the first place from armed Ukrainian Army Mi-8s or Mi-24s.

An Ukrainian Army Aviation Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter. Archive photo.  (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)
An Ukrainian Army Aviation Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter. Archive photo. (Image © Ukrainian Ministry of Defence)

From Russia comes the official quote for incursions like today. “Russia considers the request of peaceful citizens in Ukraine to be protected.” Ukrainian border guard said the Russian forces told them they were after taking control of a natural gas installation.

Russian control of the Strilkove coastline clears the road to push quicker northeast to Ukraine’s main military air transport base at Melitopol, where the Ukrainian Air Force Ilyushin IL-76s are based, if/when the conflict escalates any further. The distance over land is a 130 km (80 miles), which could in normal circumstances be negotiated in about 2 hours.

The same travel speed could be applied to the main M18/E105 road from the Crimea peninsula to Melitopol, located just 12 km (7.5 miles) west of Strilkove. The village of Novooleksiivka and the town Henichesk plus a former airbase in ruins since a long time ago are strategically situated. In case of any real Russian offensive the Ukrainian military will probably make a stand in that triangle to block advancing Russian forces from both the main route as well as the Strilkove coastline.

Fortunately on Saturday 15 March the stand-off didn’t become bigger. According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence Russian forces even withdrew to their former positions inside the Crimean peninsula after the Ukrainian ground forces and air support showed up, but this was later recalled by the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry which stated that Strilkove had been taken by Russian forces.

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger

SCENARIO MELITOPOL: How a Russian offensive might play out