An advanced Mil Mi-8AMTSh-VN helicopter for Special Operations Forces has entered flight tests, Russian Helicopters Group (part of the state hi-tech corporation Rostec) said on Wednesday.
According to the statement, the construction of the helicopters is proceeding according to schedule along with additional R&D work. The national helicopter-building centre announced that it has already started conducting test flights.
Rostec Aviation Cluster Industrial Director Anatoly Serdyukov said that the Mi-8AMTSh-VN helicopter had been technically designed taking into account the combat experience of employing helicopters in present-day armed conflicts.
“The high-altitude engines of increased power, the new rotor system, the expanded weapons suite, the enhanced protection and other specifics of the upgraded helicopter increase its combat capabilities and allow employing it for special operations in the most adverse conditions. The first stage of the trials is due to be completed in November. Eventually, two more helicopters of this type will join the flights.”
Russia’s Defence Ministry signed a contract with Russian Helicopters rotorcraft manufacturer at the Army-2019 international arms show for the delivery of ten of the latest Mi-8AMTSh-VN special-purpose helicopters. The gunships are due to be delivered during 2020-2021.
The modified helicopters are based on the Mil Mi-8 airframe (NATO reporting name: Hip), a medium twin-turbine helicopter which was originally designed by the Soviet Union. In addition to its role as a transport helicopter, the Mi-8 is also used as an airborne command post, armed gunship, and reconnaissance platform. LINK
The new helicopter has been developed taking into account the experience gained during Russia’s combat operations in Syria. The Mi-8AMTSh-VN helicopter has additional firepower provided by two side-mounted 12.7mm forward-firing machine-guns. The helicopter is also outfitted with new flight control and navigation equipment, a gyro-stabilized opto-electronic system, a searchlight with an infrared emitter, dual-band lighting equipment and is adapted for using night vision goggles.
In order to increase its combat survivability, the Mi-8AMTSh-VN is outfitted with a digital autopilot system and a defensive aids suite that automatically detects missile launches against the helicopter, jams missile homing warheads and releases heat flares.
The crew’s cabin and the helicopter’s main systems are protected by an advanced armour made of titanium alloy. The floor of the cargo compartment and the helicopter’s sides are shielded up to the windows with the removable lightweight Kevlar armour to provide additional protection for the crew.