At the MAKS-2021 Aerospace Exhibition, there was the appearance of Mi-35P – one of the improved versions of Russian combat helicopters for export

The Mi-35 is a deeply modernized version of the legendary Mi-24. Due to the characteristic shape of the fuselage and its considerable combat power, the pilots nicknamed it “Crocodile”. The Mi-24/25 proved to be excellent in local conflicts, receiving high praise not only from military pilots from countries friendly to the Soviet Union and Russia, but also from NATO military circles.

On the Syrian battlefield, the Mi-35M had a performance that was judged to be quite bad, which led to the Russian Defense Ministry’s urgent request to release a fix version. In addition to errors in avionics, targeting systems or engine stability when operating in hot climates as seen on Mi-28N and Ka-52 helicopters, the Mi-35M has a Another pretty big problem. The aircraft was commented to have very poor maneuverability, it was even compared to a multi-purpose transport helicopter Mi-8/17, very slow and heavy, but not as flexible as required by a combat helicopter.

Mi-35P Phoenix
Mi-35P Phoenix

From the reality of the Syrian battlefield, Mi-35P was born. it is essentially a Mi-24P with some of the Mi-35M’s electronics with other upgrades. The Mi-35P, informally named “Phoenix”, has had significant improvements including: an observation and monitoring station with a matrix thermal camera; high resolution color camera; laser rangefinder; and night vision goggles.

These new upgrades allow the Mi-35P fleet to destroy targets at any time of the day at a range of up to 10 km. The aircraft is protected by an armored cabin with bulletproof glass. It has a new cover – which lowers the exhaust temperature to defend against heat-seeking air defense missiles. At the request of the customer, the active protection system can also be equipped with a laser beam, which repels enemy missiles and guides them aside. Naturally, the helicopter is equipped with the latest autopilot system.

Armament on Mi-35P, in addition to twin 23 mm cannon and S-8 unguided air-to-surface missiles, it can expand its arsenal with external hardpoints, including 23 mm cannons, unguided S-13 missile, anti-tank guided missile “Ataka” or “Vikhr-1/1M”. According to customer requirements, the weapon complex can be further expanded. Phoenix’s maximum take-off weight is 11.5 tons, range is 450 km, crew of 3 includes commander, pilot and technical staff.

Officially, the Mi-35, Mi-28 and its variants are considered attack helicopters. However, the Mi-35P has more additional functions. It still has another passenger compartment that can accommodate up to 8 soldiers with full combat equipment. With access doors on both sides, in addition to standard armament it can be supplemented with heavy machine guns.

Mi-35P can carry up to 2.4 tons of cargo on an external hook. The helicopter can also be used for search and rescue operations, with radio search equipment. The experience of the Mi-24 helicopter in real combat has proven: it will be very useful in situations where emergency evacuation is required.

Another improvement of the Mi-35P is its retractable landing gear, inherited from the Mi-24. From an aerodynamic point of view, this increases the speed of the helicopter. The Mi-35P can fly at a maximum speed of 335 km/h compared to 300 km/h of the Mi-28NE. The difference may seem small, but on a fierce battlefield it is significant for a helicopter. In addition, with the retractable landing gear, there is less risk to the paratroopers.

The experience of using the Mi-24 in local wars and in exercises in different climatic and natural conditions has proven the effectiveness of this helicopter line. Compared with Mi-24, Mi-35P has more modern and reliable equipment. This ensures the adaptability of the helicopter when operating far from the base.

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