Thirty years ago, the Mi-24 helicopter, developed in compliance with the ideas of General Designer Mikhail Mil, has taken off for the first time. Over these three decades the helicopter has gone through many flashpoints and the legendary Mi-24 has been designated the flying infantry combat vehicle not without reason. However, thirty years is a long life for a combat helicopter. Therefore, in early March the Mil Experimental Design Bureau demonstrated a fundamentally modernized derivative, designated the Mi-24VM (Mi-35M), of the Mi-24 helicopter that has made a perfect showing under complicated combat conditions. The conspicuous features of the modernization, offered by the Mil Design Bureau, consist in modular updating of the Mi-24. In this case, any module (unit) can be individually modernized in accordance with the customer's request and financial potentialities.
Installation of a new main rotor provided with blades made of glass fiber plastics, a hub furnished with elastolar bearings, and an X-shaped tail rotor developed for the Mi-28N helicopter, makes it possible to decrease the mass of the flying machine, increase its hovering ceiling and rate of climb, and improve its overall operating characteristics and invulnerability.
In modernizing the airframe, armament system and communications facilities, the Mil Design Bureau offers to install a shortened wing and nonretractable landing gear and retrofit the hydraulic system. In addition to this, the client may wish to replace a number of equipment components, as well as install new bomb racks, missile launchers, and radio set.
The primary emphasis has been placed on an increase of weapon effectiveness. The Ataka air-to-ground guided missiles (ammunition establishment has been increased up to 16 missiles) have been introduced into the helicopter's armament system. The missiles can also be used against air targets similar to the Igla-V guided missiles. The 12.7mm machine-gun mount has been replaced by a 23mm aircraft cannon. The most up-to-date BVK-24 computer and a laser range finder have been introduced into the heliborne equipment. A modernization program on this scale makes it possible to increase the accuracy against a single target 1.5 times, while increasing the kill zone 2 to 2.5 times when delivering cannon fire. The combat effectiveness of employing the guided missiles increases twofold on average.
The modernization will ensure the helicopter's round-the-clock combat readiness. The use of night-vision goggles with flight information displayed in the field of view, and equipping the helicopter with an optronic fire-control station comprising of thermal imaging and TV channels, control channel, and laser range finder, as well as display systems, enables the crew to detect and recognize targets at night and employ the heliborne weapons both by day and night.
It should be pointed out that this modernization program will prolong the service life of the Mi-24, designed thirty years ago, until the years of 2015 - 2020, and essentially increase the overhaul period of the helicopter and its accessories.
Technical data for Mi-24VM
Crew: 2-3, rotor diameter: 17.20m, fuselage length with a gun: 18.57m, height: 4.39m, take-off weight: 10800-11500kg, empty weight: 8090kg, max speed: 310km/h, cruising speed: 260km/h, service ceiling: 5700m, hovering ceiling: 3100m, range: 500km, fuel: 2050l, armament: 23mm cannon, 4 x "Ataka" anti-tank missiles, 2 x "Igla" anti-aircraft missiles, 40 x 80mm rockets