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Russia has delivered Mi-35M assault helicopters to Pakistan
November 19, 2017
Photo credit: Russian Helicopters

Russia has delivered Mi-35M assault helicopters to Pakistan

Pakistan’s Defence Export Promotion Organization (DEPO) has confirmed that Pakistan has received four Mil Mi-35M assault helicopters from Russian Helicopters.

The statement was issued by DEPO’s Brig. Gen. Waheed Mumtaz during the 2017 International Military-Technical Forum (Army 2017), which took place in Moscow between August 22 to 27.

“The contract was signed, we received all four cars [Mi-35M] and now we get new equipment,” said Mumtaz responding to a journalist (via the RIA Novosti News Agency).

Pakistan ordered four Mi-35Ms in August 2015 in a $153 million U.S. deal, which included training, spare parts and ground support equipment. It was Pakistan’s first true weapon purchase from Russia.

The Mi-35M is a modernized variant of the Mi-24V Hind, a popular Soviet-era attack helicopter based on the ubiquitous Mil Mi-8/17 Hip transport helicopter platform. As a result, the Mi-35M encompasses many improvements, among them an integrated countermeasures suite and ability to deploy guided weapons.

Powered by two TV3-117VMA or VK-2500 turboshaft engines, the Mi-35M can deploy anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), guided and laser-guided rockets and gun-pods. Besides its two aircrew, the Mi-35M can also carry eight armed personnel in its cabin and ferry cargo of up to 2,400 kg with a sling.

In May, Rosonboronexport announced that a newer version, the Mi-35P, was also eliciting interest from overseas. The state-owned arms-trade body revealed that it was in negotiations with several countries.

Brig. Gen Mumtaz told RIA Novosti that Pakistani aircrews were acclimating to the Mi-35. However, upon the conclusion of this program, Pakistan will examine the notion of procuring other Russian weapons, be it additional helicopters or armoured, aviation and naval systems.

In 2015, IHS Jane’s had reported that Pakistan was interested in expanding its Mi-35 order – it aimed to procure up to 20 Mi-35s in the coming years. Pakistan was also negotiating with Rostec for a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) centre to fully support its Mi-17/171 and Mi-35 helicopters.

Notes & Comments:

The Pakistan Army is in the process of modernizing its attack helicopter fleet to cope with close air support (CAS) requirements for counterinsurgency (COIN) and anti-armour operations. It appears that the Mi-35M could factor into the former by enhancing Pakistan’s air assault capabilities, i.e. provide a dual-armed and transport platform for inserting and extracting infantry in hot-zones. This is separate from the Army’s push to replace its legacy AH-1F/S Cobra attack helicopters, which will be supplanted by the Bell Helicopter AH-1Z Viper and another platform, potentially the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) T129 ATAK.

Its engine and dynamics parts (e.g. top and tail rotors) commonality with the Mi-171 makes the Mi-35M a relatively smooth addition to the Pakistan Army’s fleet. The possible inclusion of a complete MRO hub within the country would increase the affordability of operating these platforms. The Mi-171 is also seeing adoption in Pakistan’s civil services (with the Baluchistan government acquiring a single aircraft in July).

It is not known how the Pakistan Army will equip the Mi-35Ms, especially since the armed forces already possess various electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) sensor pods and guided munitions. Extending the usage of these systems from the Mi-35M would reduce logistics and support costs. The Barq laser-guided air-to-ground missile (AGM) produced by the National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM) for use by the Burraq armed drone could be an ATGM/AGM option for the Mi-35M.

Since 2015, an assortment of media reports and open-ended official statements had alluded to Pakistani interest in big-ticket Russian armaments, including the Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E multi-role fighter, Mi-28NE Night Hunter attack helicopter and S-400 Triumf long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems. Brig. Mumtaz’s statements to RIA Novosti may imply that the Mi-35 is a pilot that could pave the way for big-ticket sales to Islamabad. With its bilateral defence ties with the U.S. in a precarious state, Pakistan does view Russia as a prospective defence supplier, especially for high-tech systems.

The clearest statement to this effect had come from the Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Sohail Aman. In an interview with Bol Narratives (published in April), ACM Aman stated that the PAF required a new combat aircraft type to complement the JF-17 and F-16, and that the PAF has “Chinese and Russian options.” It remains to be seen if Pakistan will pursue the Su-35, though it is among the more affordable options to acquire, with incremental or small-batch purchasing options (as shown in Indonesia’s recent purchase of 11 aircraft) no less.

 

  • Waleed Ahmad Qureshi

    We should look at new 2000 ton corvette by Russia, could be great for us

  • Shakeel

    A good offset arrangement for the non-delivery of AH-1Z. The Americans have a track record of pulling the plug on Pak at critical moments. They are trying to protect TTP and ISIS from the wrath of the Pak army. General Nicholson these outfits that you support have their headquarters in KABUL and we will track them down.

    A good purchase from Pakistan.

  • Hassan Raza

    Hi Bilal,

    A few days back I heard from a forum that Pakistan has rejected Su-35 officially because Russia wasn’t interested in adding AESA radar in Su-35 for Pakistan. Do you have any information about it.

    • It’s a rumour, but I don’t know if it’s accurate or true.

      That said, it’d be pretty surprising seeing that the MiG-35 is available for export with the Zhuk AE AESA radar. If the customer is willing to pay for it then I can’t see why the Russians would prevent a scaled-up version of that (i.e. with more TRMs) from showing up on the Su-35. Alternatively, the PAF can buy a Chinese AESA radar and have the integration work done in China on the way to Pakistan.

      • umar rana

        is su-35==f-16? OR advanced than f-16

        • Superior in range and payload, some advances over the F-16 Block-52/MLU (e.g. PESA radar). Not as good in other areas, e.g. HMD/S. EW/ECM parity with the AIDEWS is also an open question.

      • Hassan Raza

        Can’t we go for J-11D instead of Su-35? It seems a very good fighter and will cost way less than Su-35

        • Pakistan would have to cut a deal with Russia first in order to access Chinese-made Flankers. While China did reverse engineer and manufacture the platform for its own use, it has not actually put the J-11, J-15 or J-16 in its export portfolio. It has also bought Su-35s. All this indicates that the Chinese are still somewhat sensitive to Russia’s concerns regarding the unlicensed Flankers. IMHO the only way to compromise will be to either pay Russia a fee (on top of whatever it costs to buy Chinese-built Flankers) or to basically buy the Su-30SME or Su-35 directly from Russia.

  • sami shahid

    Pak should buy at least 6 more MI-35 for border security & tactical operations in FATA & Balochistan. MI-28 is also a good option to replace with AH-1s cobra helicopters. Anyway, 4 MI-35 for just $153 million is not expensive at all so Pak should buy more !

  • Mike

    Well Bilal you forgot to mention, thats its at least 1 generation behind to any other “Indian” helicopter….

    • mazhar

      Prove it with data.

      • Abdul Rashid

        Mike’s comment is tongue-in-cheek. He does not mean it.

  • Sarfaraz A.

    It is Russia’s timely calculation to send a stern message to those at the White House and the Pentagon. May this relationship blossom between Pakistan and Russia.

  • TruthWarrior

    …reported that Pakistan that Pakistan was interested in expanding…

    You wrote “that Pakistan” twice.

  • Aamir

    Getting weapons from Russia is well & good but we must understand that that supply chain can be sanctioned as well. Sanctions with effect the Mi 35 to a lesser extent since there numerous copies is the former eastern bloc countries. The SU 35 is a different story, by having and inventory of both the F16 & SU 35 you are opening yourself to potential sanction by both countries. While it is a fact that the Chinese J 16 is a copy of an SU 30MKK, it not a copy of the SU35. Also the Russians will never sell Pakistan sufficient copies of the SU35 for it to be a serious threat to the IAF. What are our options? Self sufficiency is the only way to go, we can partner with the Turks & the PLAF for our 5gen fighter. I also don’t understand why we can’t just buy J16??

  • Malik Asad

    Pakistan army ah-1cobra. Wz-10.vaipar hailecopter. Mi-35.t-129 hailecopter best army in wolad

  • Muhammad A Nasir

    With population going to beyond 207 million (AJK and GB yet to be included) our GDP just went down the tubes. Can we really afford expensive armament? We are paying more than double of the price of a JF-17s for helicopters we don’t need.

    Nasir

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