THREE UPGRADED Indian Air Force (IAF) Mi-35s participated in the major flypast and flying display on October 8 at Hindon Air Base, on the outskirts of New Delhi, to mark the 74th anniversary of the IAF. Previous displays had been undertaken at Palam, but were shifted to Hindon this year in order to provide more space and less disruption to commercial traffic in and out of Delhi Airport. The helicopters all wore the new low visibility grey colour scheme that is being adopted for the entire IAF fleet. Under a $20 million deal signed in 1998 with Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), 25 of the IAF’s Mi-35s are being modernised with IAI’s Mission 24 upgrade kit.
A prototype upgrade was undertaken by IAI’s Tamam electro-optical division, but remaining helicopters are being modernised locally in India. Although production got underway in either 2001 or 2002, little has been seen of the upgraded helicopters since then, apart from a display at Aero India 2003, therefore their appearance at the 74th anniversary event was most welcome.
Few details have been officially released on the upgrade, but it is known to include Tamam’s proven helicopter multi-mission optronic stabilised payload (HMOSP), which can be seen mounted on the starboard side of the nose of upgraded Mi-35s, making this the easiest external recognition feature on the modernised helicopters. The HMOSP has been integrated with the Shturm-V anti-tank guided missile, whilst the cockpits are now night-vision goggle compatible and feature single multi-function displays.