Introducing the Mi-35M – Inside the Crocodile’s jaws


Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ

12th December, 2015


Mi-35M – a deep modernization of a well-proven transport-combat helicopter, Mi-24, which received the nicknamed by troops of “The Crocodile”. At the present time, the Mi-35M is used for both export and for the needs of the Russian army. The helicopter is intended to defeat enemy armored vehicles, offer fire support of land forces on the battlefield, and evacuate troops and the wounded. In addition, the helicopter can be used for transportation of various cargos in the cabin and on an external sling. The development of the helicopter was undertaken by the enterprise of JSC Rosvertol, located in Rostov-on-don. 

In 2010, the Defense Ministry ordered 22 Mi-35M’s to be delivered during the period of 2010-2015. As of August 2012, there were 12 Mi-35M helicopters in the Russian army. Later, they were awarded another contract for the supply of 27 Mi-35M up to 2014. In addition to Russia, buyers of the helicopter were Venezuela – who ordered 10 helicopters (designation Mi-35M2 Caribe), Brazil – an order for 12 helicopters (designation AH-2 Saber), and Azerbaijan – the order for 24 helicopters.

Thanks to the new program of modernization, the Mi-35M has become a multi-purpose attack machine which is able to perform combat missions around the clock, even in the most adverse weather conditions. The helicopter is equipped with a movable GSH-23L double-barreled armament, caliber of 23 mm, and is armed with “Storm” anti-tank guided missiles. One of the features of the construction of the Mi-35M is the use of shortened wings and a lightweight fixed landing gear, which has a positive impact on the weight of the helicopter. It has also undergone changes to the X-shaped tail rotor which now provides the helicopter with more control and at the same time a reduced noise level. The machine has more powerful engines, which allow an increase in flight altitude.

- Advertisement -

The multi-purpose Mi-35M attack helicopter is equipped with an upgraded OPS-24N surveillance and targeting system, which is compatible with night vision, avionics and can be used in both day and night conditions. The helicopter’s sustained thermal imaging surveillance system and night vision devices can detect and recognize targets at a distance of several kilometers at any time of the day. In addition, the helicopter is fitted with a modern satellite navigation system, which is connected to the on-board computer of the helicopter. This reduces the time for route calculations, determining navigation options, and the issuing of routes on the screen of the commander of the helicopter by two fold. 

In addition, the combat version of the helicopter can be used for: assault, cargo and medical. In landing configuration, the helicopter can carry, in the cargo cabin, up to 8 troops with personalised weapons. The transport configuration, the helicopter can carry up to 1,500 kg. of ammunition or other cargo inside the cargo cabin. The Mi-35M is equipped with an external suspension system, with the outside area of the cargo compartment capable of carrying cargo weighing up to 400 kg. The ambulance configuration of the Mi-35M can carry 2 recumbent and 2 sedentary injured or sick persons accompanied by a medical worker. 

Features of the Mi-35M

The Mi-35M upgraded helicopter, created using the blueprint of the export version of the Mi-24 (Mi-35) is used for the application of more advanced operations around the clock. The aim of the modernization of the helicopter was to significantly improve its flight characteristics, as well as ensuring a more efficient use of all possible weapons (including precision weapons) around the clock and in a variety of geographic conditions, including the use of the machine in the conditions of hot climate and high altitude.

To provide around the clock combat missions, the Mi-35M has been fitted with:

  • A new surveillance and targeting system (OPS-24N) which includes the gyrostabilized optronic station GOES-342.
  • Sighting and computational system PRVK-24.
  • Complex navigation and electronic display KNEI-24.
  • Lighting equipment that is adapted for use of night vision goggles.

Installations on the helicopter’s data systems allow:

  • The machine to ensure around-the-clock detection and recognition of both ground and surface targets.
  • The implementation of the guidance of guided missiles.
  • The determination of distance to the target using the laser rangefinder.
  • The performance of more precise aiming when using small arms, movable guns and stationary weapons, and rockets.
  • The implementation of flight on a given route in semi-automatic mode.
  • The reduction in effect of the physical load of the crew on the helicopter in the process of machine control and the use of available weapons.

The use of night vision goggles (NVG) has led to the fact that the exterior and interior lighting equipment of the Mi-35M has been specially adapted for them. The use of NVG can detect objects under illumination of no less than 5×10-4 Lux. OHB work in the wavelength range of 640 to 900 nm. The use of night vision devices gives the helicopter: 

  • The possibility of piloting at altitudes of 50 to 200 m with visual control over the underlying surface.
  • The detection of targets such as “armor”, “mast power lines”, “road”, etc.
  • The ability to perform take-off, landing, flight and landing approach and touchdown on unlit and unequipped sites.
  • The ability to implement various search and rescue operations, as well as the monitoring of areas during the night.

The Mi-35M is armed with the NPPU-23 – a nasal fixed mobile cannon installation, with the gun “GSH-23L” (two barrels). Depending on the variant of weapon used, the helicopter can carry the following types of weapons:

  • Anti – tank guided missiles (ATGM) “Attack-M” and “Storm-In” up to 8 pieces, equipped with various types of combat troops, depending on the type purposes.
  • 2 or 4 units of BU-NAR type C-8 (unguided missile caliber 80 mm).
  • Suspended cannons, which consist of 2 containers of UPK-23-250, equipped with the guns “GSH-23L”.

To improve the technical characteristics, aircraft performance characteristics and aerodynamic qualities, the Mi-35M was installed with a new support system. It includes new main rotor blades which are made from composite materials, the airfoil having a new aerodynamic profile. As a result, the blades have less mass and increased technical performance. Their survivability in combat has also been enhanced. In addition, the new helicopter’s main rotor hub has elastomeric joints that do not require lubrication, the main part of the sleeve is made of titanium alloy. Steering the four-bladed propeller is a bunk X-shaped arrangement of  blades that are made from composite materials and are equipped with torsion suspension bar. This reduces the number of lubrication points on the tail rotor. 

The new load-carrying system of the helicopter provides the machine with features of high manoeuvrability,  low acoustic visibility and also increased combat survivability. The Mi-35M rotor blades are made of composite materials that help to maintain their performance up to the end of the flight even in case of damage due to artillery shells of 30mm calibre. The composite blades of both propellers (main and tail) are equipped with an electrothermal anti-icing system.

In addition, the Mi-35M is equipped with modern VC-2500-02 engines boasting increased power, which is a further development of the TV3-117 engines. The use of the new VC-2500-02 engines, which have an increased altitude and greater lifespan in comparison with the TV3-117 engines (up to 60,000 hours), allows the use of the helicopter in conditions of high mountains and high temperatures, but also ensures safety of flight and landing of Mi-35M with one engine inoperative.

The design of the turbine engines on the VC-2500-02 uses modern heat-resistant materials, and the electro-mechanical control system of the engine has been strengthened at the first compressor drive stage. This has allowed the increase in temperature of gases before the turbine compressor and free turbine, thus increasing the speed of the turbocharger. The engine has two special flight modes: “max” and “extra”. These are used in cases where only 1 engine is running. 

The Mi-35M has a new shortened wing, equipped with DBR-HC beamed holders, which enable the configuration of APU-8/4-U multi launchers used for mounting guided missiles. In addition, the shortened wing with new holders allows the increase in manufacturability of Mi-35M equipment with various specifications using the established mechanism of the wing.

It has new landing devices that are designed to absorb and withstand loads during takeoff and landing, with the improvement in manoeuvres of the machine along the ground and the ground clearance during the taxi process. Also, the machine is equipped with a fixed landing gear, which ensures the safety of the helicopter at extremely low altitudes or in the case of an emergency landing.

Thus, it can be argued that the Mi-35M, by equipping a digital computing system, modern avionics and 3rd generation night vision goggles for use around the clock, is an all-weather helicopter with an extended range of combat missions that can be undertaken.

Flight performance of the Mi-35M:

  • Dimensions: main rotor diameter – 17.2 m. the diameter of the steering screw – 3,84 m, length – 17,49 meters, a height of 4.16 m.
  • Empty Weight – 8360kg, normal – 10,900 kg., maximum takeoff – 11,500 kg
  • Engine Type – VK-2500-02, 2x2200HP
  • Maximum landing speed – 300 km/h and cruising speed of 260 km/h
  • Operational range – 450 km (without PTB) and 1000 km (with PTB).
  • Static ceiling – 3150 m, dynamic – 5,100 m
  • Crew – 2 people
  • Armament: 2×23-mm installation of NPPU-23 (450 rounds), up to 8 ATGM “Storm-In”, “Attack-M”, 2 or 4 blocks of NAR C-8.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Sign up here to get the latest news, updates and special offers delivered directly to your inbox.