The famous Mi-24 (NATO designation Hind) saw action in many hotspots, local wars, armed conflicts and special operations all around the world. Despite its age the Mi-24 remains in service with at least 50 air arms.
The Mi-24 made its name for being easy and cheap to maintain. This helicopter also proved to be reliable. However refurbishment, upgrades and modernization is necessary in order to keep these ageing gunships operational. Especially its electronics needs to be improved to meet modern demands and competitiveness in modern ωλɾʄλɾɛ.
The upgraded Mi-35M (Western reporting name Hind-E) was first revealed in 1999. It is an export version of the Mi-24VM. This helicopter was intended only for export. The Mil Helicopter Plant introduced a more modern Mi-28 back in 1990s. However many countries, including Russia, can not replace their ageing fleet of Mi-24 attack helicopters due to funding problems. So refurbishment and production of helicopters such as the Mi-35M continues.
Production of the Mi-35M commenced in 2005. This attack helicopter and is derivatives are in service with Azerbaijan (24), Brazil (12), Iraq (24), Venezuela (8) and possibly some other countries.
The main role of this helicopter is destruction of armored vehicles, enemy troops, UAVs and other helicopters. Its secondary role is delivery of troops and special cargo, evacuation of wounded. It can operate at night and in adverse weather conditions.
The Mi-35M has a number of improvements. It differs from the basic model by main rotor system of the Mi-28 and X-shape tail rotor. Main rotor’s fiberglass blades have new aerodynamic profile. These are lighter but stronger due to titanium details. Helicopter also has upgraded turboshaft engines. Flight performance such as altitude and maneuverability improved due to these changes. Stub wings were shortened in order to reduce weight. Wings have a number of hardpoints for ωɛλρσɳs and other uses.
Electronic core of the helicopter underwent fundamental modifications. A whole spectrum of new electronic systems were adopted in the cockpit. The Mi-35M is fitted with upgraded avionics and improved sensor package, including night vision system. Helicopter is also fitted with electro-optical rangefinder/targeting system with thermal imaging guidance channel, satellite positioning and navigation system, electronic multifunction displays, onboard computer and new generation jam-proof communications equipment.
This attack helicopter can carry different ωɛλρσɳs, including podded guns, 8 older Shturm-V or newer Ataka-V ant-tank missiles, Igla-V air-to-air missiles, unguided rockets or bombs. Armament depends on customer requirements. A nose turret is fitted with a GSh-231 23 mm twin-barrel cannon. The cockpit and vital components of this helicopter are significantly armored.
The Mi-35M has a payload capacity of a whooping 2 400 kg. It can carry a full infantry squad of 8 fully-equipped troops. This feature makes this helicopter unique comparing with Western attack helicopters. A large-caliber machine gun, as well as general purpose machine guns can be installed in the cargo cabin.
Landing gear of the Mi-35M is no longer retractable. This reduced overall weight of the helicopter. Also in case of the crash the landing gear absorbs some of the energy.
It is worth mentioning that other countries also offer their refurbished and upgraded versions of the Mi-24 Hind with modern avionics, ωɛλρσɳs, engines and night operation capability. South African company Advanced Technologies and Engineering (ATE) proposes its Superhind upgrade programme. It is estimated that 1 500 Hinds remain in service so market for upgrades remain substantial.