Mil Mi-24

The Mil Mi-24 (NATO reporting name: "Hind") is a large helicopter gunship and low-capacity troop transport produced by Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant and operated from 1972 by the Soviet Air Force, its successors, and over thirty other nations.

In NATO circles the export versions, Mi-25 and Mi-35, are simply denoted with a letter suffix as "Hind D" and "Hind E" respectively. Soviet pilots called the aircraft "letayushiy tank" or "flying tank". Another common nickname is "Krokodil" (Crocodile)—due to the helicopter's camouflage and fuselage shape.

Development

During the early 1960s it became apparent to the Soviet designer Mikhail Leont'yevich Mil that the trend towards ever increasing battlefield mobility would result in the creation of flying infantry fighting vehicles, which could be used to perform both fire support missions and transport infantry. The first expression of this concept was a mock-up unveiled in 1966 in the experimental shop of the Ministry of Aircraft's factory number 329 at which Mil was head designer. The mock-up designated V-24 was based on another project, the V-22 utility helicopter which itself never flew. The V-24 was similar in layout and configuration to the UH-1A Huey with a central infantry compartment that could hold eight troops sitting back to back, and a set of small wings positioned to the top rear of the passenger cabin, capable of holding up to six missiles or rockets, with a twin barreled GSh-23L cannon fixed to the landing skid.

Mil proposed the design to the heads of the Soviet armed forces and while he had the support of a number strategists of the armed forces, he was opposed by a number of the more senior members of the armed forces who believed that conventional weapons were a better use of resources. Despite the opposition, Mil managed to persuade the defence minister's first deputy, Marshal Andrey A. Grechko to convene an expert panel to look into the matter. While the panels opinions were mixed, supporters of the project eventually held sway, and a request for proposals for the design of a battlefield support helicopter was issued.

Mil engineers prepared two basic designs, a 7 ton single engine design and a 10.5 ton twin engine design both based around the 1,700 hp Izotov TV3-177A turboshaft. Later three complete mockups were produced along with five mockups of just the cockpit area to allow the positions of the pilot and the weapon station operator to be fine tuned.

The Kamov bureau suggested an army version of their Ka-25 Hormone ASW helicopter as a low cost option. This was considered but later dropped in favor of the new Mil twin engine design. A number of changes were made at the insistence of the military, including the replacement of the 23 mm cannon with a rapid fire heavy machine gun mounted in a chin turret, and the use of the then under development 9K114 Shturm (AT-6 Spiral) anti-tank missile.

A directive was issued on May 6 1968 to proceed with development of the twin engine design. Work proceeded under Mil until his death in 1970. Detailed design work began in August 1968 under the codename Yellow 24. A full scale mockup of the design was reviewed and approved in February 1969. Flight tests with a prototype began on September 15 1969 with a tethered hover, four days later the first free flight was conducted. A second prototype was built, followed by a test batch of ten helicopters.

Acceptance testing for the design began in June 1970 continuing for 18 months. Changes made in the design addressed structural strength and fatigue problems, and reduced vibration levels. Also a 12 degree anhedral was introduced to the wings to address the aircraft's tendency to Dutch roll at speeds in excess of 200 km/h. A number of other design changes were made until the production version Mi-24A (izdeliye 245) entered production in 1970 and obtaining its IOC in 1971. It was officially accepted into the state arsenal in 1972.

Recent developments

In October 2007, defense-aerospace.com reported the government of Saudi Arabia signed a contract for up to 150 Mi-35 and Mi-17 helicopters worth $2.2 billion.

In October 2007, the Russian Air Force announced that it will replace its 250 Mi-24 helicopter gunships with 300 of the more recent Mi-28s by 2015.

Characteristics

The core of the aircraft was taken from the Mil Mi-8 (NATO reporting name "Hip"), two top mounted turboshaft engines driving a mid-mounted 17.3 m five-blade main rotor and a three blade tail rotor. The engine positions give the aircraft its distinctive double air intake. The original versions have an angular greenhouse-style cockpit. Versions D and above include a characteristic tandem cockpit with a "double bubble" canopy. Other components of the airframe came from the Mi-14 "Haze". Weapon hardpoints are provided by two short mid-mounted wings (which also provide lift), each offering three stations. The load-out mix is mission dependent; they can be tasked with close air support, anti-tank operations, or aerial combat. The body is heavily armored and the titanium rotor blades can resist impacts from .50 caliber (12.7 mm) rounds. The cockpit is overpressurized to protect the crew in NBC conditions. The craft uses a retractable tricycle undercarriage. As a combination gunship and troop transport, the Mi-24 has no direct NATO counterpart.

While some have compared the UH-1 "Huey" as NATO's direct counterpart to the Mi-24, the helicopter that created the concept of a troop carrying gunship, this is not true. While UH-1 helicopters were used in Vietnam to ferry troops, and were used as gunships, they were not able to do both at the same time. For a UH-1 to be a gunship, the entire passenger area of the helicopter would be stripped to accommodate extra fuel and ammunition, making it useless for troop carrying. The Mi-24 can do both at the same time, and this was greatly exploited by airborne units of the Soviet Army during the 1980-1989 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Combat history

Ogaden War (1977-1978)

The first use of the Mi-24 in combat was with the Ethiopian forces during the Ogaden War against the Somalis. The helicopters formed part of a massive airlift of military equipment from the Soviet Union, after the Soviets switched sides towards the end of 1977. The helicopters were instrumental in the combined air and ground assault that expelled Somali forces from Ethiopia by the beginning of 1978.

Cambodian-Vietnamese War (1978)

The Mi-24 saw extensive use of Mi-24A by the Vietnam People's Air Force in the Cambodian-Vietnamese War. The gunships destroyed many Khmer Rouge bases and outposts up until 1986 when KR forces were driven to the border of Thailand.

Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979-1989)

The aircraft was operated extensively during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, mainly for bombing Mujahideen fighters. The US supplied heat-seeking Stinger missiles to the Mujahideen, and the Soviet Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters proved to be favorite targets of the rebels.

The Mi-24 gunships constituted a part of the 333 helicopters lost during combat operations in Afghanistan, an unknown number to ground fire. The cockpit is heavily armoured and can withstand even .50 caliber (12.7 mm) rounds, but the tail is extremely vulnerable to even small arms fire due to the lack of armour in that section.

The heat-seeking nature of the anti-aircraft weapons employed by the Mujahideen combined with the Mi-24's exhaust being directly under the main rotor caused the aircraft to disintegrate if hit. This was remedied later by countermeasure flares and a missile warning system being installed into all Soviet Mi-4, Mi-8, and Mi-24 helicopters giving the pilot a chance to evade the missile or crash-land.

During this conflict, the Mi-24 proved highly effective and very reliable, earning the respect of both Soviet pilots and the Mujahideen, who scattered as quickly as possible when Soviet target designation flares were lit nearby. The Mujahideen nicknamed the Mi-24 the "Devil's Chariot" due to its notorious reputation.

Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988)

The Mi-24 saw considerable use by the Iraqi Army during the long war with their neighbour, Iran. Its heavy armament was a key factor in causing severe damage to Iranian ground forces. This war saw the only confirmed air-to-air helicopter battles in history with the Iraqi Mi-24s flying and scoring victories against Iranian AH-1J SeaCobras (supplied by the United States before the Iranian revolution) on many separate occasions.

Nicaraguan civil war (1980-1988)

Mi-24s were also used by the Nicaraguan Army during the civil war of the 1980s.

Sri Lankan Civil War (1987-present)

The Indian Peace Keeping Force (1987-1990) in Sri Lanka used Mi-24s when an Indian Air Force detachment was deployed there in support of the Indian and Sri Lankan armed forces in their fight against various Tamil militant groups such as the LTTE. It is believed that Indian losses were considerably reduced due to the heavy fire support provided by their Mi-24 gunships. The Indians lost no Mi-24s in the operation, as the Tigers had no weapons that could deal with the Crocodile at the time, although several sustained heavy damage due to machine gun fire.

From November 14, 1995 to the present, the Sri Lanka Air Force has used Mi-24s in their continuing war with the LTTE for close air support for ground forces and proven highly effective at it. Currently the Sri Lanka Air Force operates a mixture of Mi-24/-35P and Mi-24V/-35 versions. Some have recently been upgraded with modern Israeli FLIR and Electronic Warfare systems. Due to LTTE MANPADS at least 5 of them have been lost and another 3 on the ground were destroyed or heavily damaged due to ground attacks on airbases.

Gulf War (1991)

The Mi-24 was again employed heavily by Iraqis during their invasion of Kuwait, although most were withdrawn by Saddam Hussein when it became apparent that he would need them to retain his grip on power in the aftermath of the war. A few examples later were sent over the border into Iran, along with many other Iraqi military aircraft in the hope of temporarily preventing them from being destroyed by allied air strikes. As with the other Iraqi aircraft, however, the Iranians kept them and used them in their own service.

Croatian War of Independence (1990s)

First shown in Croatia 1993, 12 Mi-24 were efficiently used by Croatian army in Operation Storm 1995 against Serbian part of ex Yugoslavia army JNA and paramilitants of the Krajina army.

First and Second Wars in Chechnya (1990s-2000s)

During First and Second Chechen Wars in the Russian republic of Chechnya, beginning in 1994 and 1999 respectively, Mi-24s were employed by the Russian armed forces. As with Afghanistan, however, the Mi-24s were vulnerable to rebel tactics. Dozens are believed to have been shot down or crashed during military operations. A contributing cause to these crashes is the poor maintenance given to these aging helicopters.

Kosovo war

During the fighting against KLA rebels in Kosovo and Metohija, JSO helicopters were involved in action at the village of Donji Prekaz. On the night of March 1, 1998, a Serbian Unit for special operations (JSO) landed and one of the Mi-24Vs was hit by small arms fire and made an emergency landing, but the KLA rebels were repulsed by JSO personel. During the summer of 1998, the Mi-24Vs took part in several combat missions. On June 27, using four helicopters, JSO forces helped some 100 policeman and Serbian civilians fleeing from a NATO-blockade in the village of Kijevo. The Mi-24V and Mi-17 transported ammunition and evacuated wounded.

Sudanese Civil War (1995-present)

The Sudanese air force acquired six Mi-24's in 1995 which were used in Southern Sudan and the Nuba mountains to engage the SPLA. At least two aircraft were lost within the first year of operation while not in combat, but may have been replaced.

A further twelve were bought in 2001 and used extensively in the oilfields of Southern Sudan. Mi-24's were also deployed to Darfur in 2004-2005.

Sierra Leone Civil War (1991-2002)

One and later three Mi-24Vs owned by Sierra Leone and flown by South African mercenaries were used against the RUF rebels. In 1995, they helped drive the RUF from the capital, Freetown.

First and Second Congo Wars (1996-2003)

Three Mi-24s were used by Mobutu's army and later taken over by the new Congolese air force. Also Zimbabwean Mi-24s were operated on behalf of the Congolese army. These have been supplied to Zaire in 1997, at least one of them being flown by Serbian mercenaries.

2001 Macedonia conflict (February 2001-August 2001)

The Macedonian armed forces used the Mi-24V, which were supplied by Ukraine, extensively against Albanian separatists. The main areas of action were in Tetovo, Radusha and Aracinovo. These aircraft were used frequently and proved to be very effective, with claims of NLA casualties numbering in the hundreds in the village of Aracinovo.

Ivorian Civil War (2002-2004)

Five Mil Mi-24s piloted by mercenaries were used in support of government forces. They were later destroyed by the French Army in retaliation for an air attack on a French base which killed nine soldiers.

Second Congo War (2003-present)

This UN peace keeping mission employed the Mi-24/-35 helicopters from the Indian Air Force to give support to the mission. The IAF has been operating in the region since 2003.

Iraq War (March 2003-present)

The Polish contingent in Iraq has been using six Mi-24Ds since December 2004. One of them crashed on July 18 2006 in an air base in Al Diwaniyah. After the end of the mission Poland will probably transfer the aircraft to the Iraqi Army.

War in Somalia (2006–present)

The Ethiopian Air Force has about three Mil Mi-35 and ten Mil Mi-24D helicopter gunships operating in Somalia. One was shot down near the Mogadishu International Airport on March 30, 2007 by Islamic insurgents.

Variants

The Mi-24 went from drawing board in 1968 to first test-flights in less than eighteen months. First models were delivered to the armed forces for evaluation in 1971. The Mi-24A (Hind-B) did have a number of problems - lateral roll, weapon sighting problems, and limited field of view for the pilot. A heavy redesign of the aircraft front section solved most of these problems.

  • V-24 (Hind) - The first version of this helicopter, were twelve prototypes and development aircraft. One such prototype was modified in 1975 as A-10 for successful speed record attempts (having reached 368 km/h) with wings removed and faired over and with inertia-type dampers on the main rotor head.
  • Mi-24 (Hind-A) - Other early versions were the armed assault helicopter, which could carry eight combat troops and three crew members. It could also carry four 57-mm rocket pods on four underwing pylons, four MCLOS 9M17 Phalanga (AT-2 Swatter) anti-tank missiles on two underwing rails, free-fall bombs, plus one 12.7-mm machine-gun in the nose. The Mi-24 (Hind-A) was the first production model.
  • Mi-24A (Hind-B) - The Mi-24A was the second production model. Both the Mi-24 and Mi-24A entered Soviet Air Force service in 1972. Has an angular-greenhouse cockpit instead of two round ones. Lacks the four-barrel 12.7mm machine gun under the nose.
  • Mi-24U (Hind-C) - Training version without any armament.
  • Mi-24D (Hind-D) - The Mi-24D was a purer gunship than the earlier variants. It entered production in 1973. The Mi-24D has a redesigned forward fuselage, with two separate cockpits for the pilot and gunner. It is armed with a single 12.7-mm four-barrel machine-gun under the nose. It can carry four 57-mm rocket pods, four SACLOS 9M17 Phalanga anti-tank missiles(a significant enhancement compared to the MCLOS system found on the Mi-24A), plus bombs and other weapons.
  • Mi-24DU - Small numbers of Mi-24Ds were built as training helicopters with doubled controls.
  • Mi-24V (Hind-E) - Later development led to the Mi-24V which entered production in 1976 and was first seen by the west in the early 1980s. It armed with the more advanced 9M114 Shturm (AT-6 Spiral). Eight of those missile are mounted on four outer wing pylons. It was the most widely produced version with more than 1500 made.
  • Mi-24P (Hind-F) - The gunship version, which replaced the 12.7mm machine-gun with a fixed 30-mm cannon.
  • Mi-24RKR (Hind-G1) - NBC reconnaissance model, which is designed to collect radiation, biological and chemical samples. It was first seen during the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Also known as the Mi-24R, Mi-24RR and Mi-24RKh (Rch).
  • Mi-24K (Hind-G2) : Army reconnaissance, artillery observation helicopter.
  • Mi-24VM - upgraded Mi-24V with updated avionics to improve night-time operation, new communications gear, shorter and lighter wings, and updated weapon systems to include support for the Ataka, Shturm and Igla-V missiles and a 23 mm main gun. Other internal changes have been made to increase the aircraft life-cycle and ease maintenance. The Mi-24VM is expected to operate until 2015
  • Mi-24PM - upgraded Mi-24P using same technologies as in Mi-24VM.
  • Mi-24PN - The Russian military has selected this upgraded Mi-24 to be their primary attack helicopter. The PN version has a TV and a FLIR camera located in a dome on the front of the aircraft. Other modifications include using the rotor blades and wings from the Mi-28 and fixed rather than retractable landing gear. The Russians received 14 Mi-24PNs in 2004 and plan on eventually upgrading all of their Mi-24s.
  • Mi-24PS : Civil police or para-military version.
  • Mi-24E : Environmental research version.
  • Mi-25 - The export version of the Mi-24D.
  • Mi-35 - The export version of the Mi-24V.
  • Mi-35M - Export night attack version, fitted with western sensors and avionics.
  • Mi-24W : Polish designation for the Mi-24V.
  • Mi-35P - The export version of the Mi-24P.
  • Mi-35U - Unarmed training version of the Mi-35.
  • Mi-24 SuperHind Mk II - Modern western avionics upgrade produced by South African company Advanced Technologies and Engineering (ATE).
  • Mi-24 SuperHind Mk III/IV - Extensive operational upgrade of the original Mi-24 including weapons, avionics and counter measures.
  • Mi-24 Afghanistan field modifications - Passenger compartment armour and exhaust suppressors were often removed. Due to accidental firing while switching sides the door gunner was given both a port and starboard gun. Reloads for the rocket pods to allow self-reloading at the battlefield and also heavy weapons for self defence were often carried.

Specifications (Mi-24)

crew=3 (pilot, weapons system officer and technician)
length 17.5 m (57 ft 4 in)
span 17.3 m (56 ft 7 in)
Wingspan: 6.5 m (21 ft 3 in)
height 6.5 m (21 ft 3 in)
empty weight 8,500 kg (18,740 lb)
max takeoff weight 12,000 kg (26,500 lb)
capacity=8 troops or 4 stretchers
engine (turbines) Isotov TV3-117
number of turbines: 2
power 1,600 kW (2,200 hp)
max speed 335 km/h (208 mph)
range 450 km (280 miles)
ceiling 4,500 m (14,750 ft)

Armament

Internal guns:

External stores:

  • Total payload is 1500 kg of external stores.
  • Inner hardpoints can carry at least 500 kg
  • Outer hardpoints can carry up to 250 kg
  • Wing-tip pylons can only carry the 9M17 Phalanga in the Mi-24A-D and the 9K114 Shturm complex in the Mi-24V-F.

Bomb-load:

  • All bombs within weight range ZAB, FAB, RBK, ODAB etc.
  • MBD-4 multiple ejector racks with 4xFAB-100
  • KGMU2V submunition/mine dispensers

First generation armament (standard production Mi-24D):

Second generation armament (Mi-24V and upgrades):

  • UPK-23-250 gunpod carrying the GSh-23L
  • S-25 350mm rockets
  • B-8V20 a lightweight long tubed helicopter version of the S-8 rocket launcher
  • UB-13 S-13 rocket launcher
  • 9M39 Igla missile 2-4 tubes per launcher
  • 9K114 Shturm in pairs on the outer and wingtip pylons

ATE upgrade (Superhind MkIII B)

  • 30 mm turreted cannon
  • Ingwe anti-tank guided missile
  • Bombs

Other:

  • In foreign service other weapons have sometimes been converted for use
  • Modern prototypes can carry the 9K121 Vikhr (Ukrainian prototypes), 9M120 Ataka-V (Mil prototypes), R-73 and a variety of semi-active laser guided rockets and missiles.
  • Early variants had holes in the cargo doors so that infantry could fire assault rifles (much like on Soviet APCs from that period). These were removed from later production. Sometimes a door gunner was added in the field.
  • During the war in Afghanistan, additional hand-held weapons were carried internally for crew self defence if shot down. Extra rounds of rocket ammunition were often carried so that the crew could land and self-reload in the field.

Records

The records for speed, climb, and altitude set in 1975 were set by a female crew.

External links

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