Pakistan’s Minister of Defence Production (MoDP) Rana Tanveer Hussain reportedly informed local Pakistani news outlets that Pakistan will receive its four Mi-35 assault helicopters from Russia in 2017.
Mr. Hussain reportedly added that the Mi-35s cost Pakistan $153 million U.S.
The Mi-35 is the latest iteration of the Mi-24 Hind. While retaining the Hind’s dual attack and transport design, the Mi-35 is outfitted with upgraded mechanical parts (e.g. new main rotor and tail rotor), modern onboard electronics and countermeasures, such as a radar warning receiver and infrared jamming.
In terms of armament, the Mi-35 can be equipped with 80 mm and 122 mm rockets as well as anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM). If armed with solely ATGMs, the Mi-35 can carry up to eight missiles.
The Mi-35 can carry up to eight armed personnel. The Mi-35 can also carry cargo weighing up to 2,400 kg using an external sling.
Notes & Comments:
Pakistan and Russia inked the Mi-35 sale on 19 August 2015. At the time, IHS Jane’s reported that Pakistan could procure a total of up to 20 Mi-35s. Pakistan’s procurement timeline is not known, but MoDP Hussain mentioned that talks were underway with Russia for Mi-35s in June of this year.
Considering the cost of raising the requisite logistics and maintenance infrastructure of the Mi-35, it is unlikely that the Pakistan Army would only operate four units. Pakistan was also in talks with Rostec to raise a local maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) centre to support the Mi-35s and Mi-17s.
With the aim of eventually replacing its oldest AH-1F/S Cobra attack helicopters and strengthening its air combat arm, the Pakistan Army is also pursuing other dedicated attack helicopter platforms.
In April 2015, the U.S. State Department cleared the possible sale of 15 Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters to Pakistan. In August 2015, the U.S. Department of Defence awarded Bell a contract to produce two AH-1Zs, this was followed up in April 2016 with an additional order of nine units.
Pakistan is also poised to select another attack helicopter platform. The Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) T-129 and Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation (CAIC) Z-10 have been pegged as the leading options.
The TAI T-129 was praised for its solid performance in Pakistan’s hot-and-high conditions (i.e. high-altitude areas), and TAI is hopeful of securing a sale. The CAIG Z-10 was showcased at the 2016 Pakistan Day parade, and participated in a joint-exercise in November by the Army and Air Force near Bahawalpur.