The Mi-24 (NATO designation Hind) is one of the most widely-known assault helicopter gunships in the world, and remains in service with over 35 air arms.
The Mi-24 was developed from the tried and tested Mi-8 multirole transport helicopter and was first flown in V-24 prototype form in 1969. Production commenced in 1971 and ceased in 1991. Over 2 300 Hinds of al variants were produced.
The definitive initial production variant was the Mi-24D Hind-D (Mi-25 for export). This introduced heavily-armored, stepped cockpits ant an undernose gun turret. This gunship has a crew of three and can carry up to 8 fully-equipped troops.
From 1976 to 1978, the Hind-D was joined in service by the up-engined Mi-24V Hind-E (export Mi-35), which also featured improved armament of tube-launched 9M114 Shturm (AT-6 Spiral) ATGMs.
Combat experience in Afghanistan led to the development of the Mi-24P Hind-F with a 30-mm GSh-30K twinbarrel cannon mounted on the forward fuselage. Later specialised Hind variants include the Mi-24RKR Hind-G1 NBC reconnaissance helicopter; Mi-24K Hind-G2 for artillery fire correction; Mi-24BMT minesweeper conversion and Mi-24PS for paramilitary use.
At the beggining of the 21 century Mi-24s remains in widespread service, the Russian army being the most significant operator with around 700 helicopters. Other major users include Algeria, Angola, Belarus, Czech Republic, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Libya and Poland. The market for upgrades is substantial, with an estimated 1 600 Hinds remaining in service.
A number of programmes are available. The Mi-24M (export Mi-35M) is available from Mil as a staged upgrade that includes a refurbished airframe for prolonged service, Mi-28 dynamic systems, upgraded 2 194-shp (1 636-kW) TV3-117VMA engines, and MFD-equipped cockpit compatible with night vision googles, pilot's head-up display, forward-looking infra-red, a nose turret carrying a GSh-231 23-mm two-barrel cannon, 9M120 (AT-12 Swinger) ATGMs, and compatibility with 9M39 Igla (SA-18 Grouse) air-to-air missiles. Mil proposes to upgrade around 200 Russian Federation Hinds to these standards as Mi-24VMs, but the future of this programme is uncertain.
The Mi-24 has seen widespread combat action, fighting in Afghanistan, Chad, Angola, Sri Lanka and, most recently, in the wars in Chechnya in 1995 and 1999.