The Mil Mi-24 (Russian: Миль Ми-24; NATO reporting name: Hind) is a large helicopter gunship, attack helicopter and low-capacity troop transport with room for eight passengers. It is produced by Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant and has been operated since 1972 by the Soviet Air Force and its successors, along with more than 30 other nations.
In NATO circles, the export versions, Mi-25 and Mi-35, are denoted with a letter suffix as "Hind D" and "Hind E". Soviet pilots called the Mi-24 the "flying tank" (летающий танк; letayushchiy tank), a term used historically with the famous World War II Soviet Il-2 Shturmovik armored ground attack aircraft. More common unofficial nicknames were "Crocodile" (Крокодил; Krokodil), due to the helicopter's camouflage scheme and "Drinking Glass" (Стакан; Stakan), because of the flat glass plates that surround earlier Mi-24 variants' cockpits.
Sri Lankan Civil War (1987–2009)
The Indian Peace Keeping Force (1987–90) in Sri Lanka used Mi-24s when an Indian Air Force detachment was deployed there in support of the Indian and Sri Lankan armed forces in their fight against various Tamil militant groups such as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). It is believed that Indian losses were considerably reduced by the heavy fire support from their Mi-24s. The Indians lost no Mi-24s in the operation, as the Tigers had no weapons capable of downing the gunship at the time.
Since 14 November 1995, the Mi-24 has been used by the Sri Lanka Air Force in the war against the LTTE and has proved highly effective at providing close air support for ground forces. The Sri Lanka Air Force operates a mix of Mi-24/-35P and Mi-24V/-35 versions attached to its No. 9 Attack Helicopter Squadron. They have recently been upgraded with modern Israeli FLIR and electronic warfare systems. Five were upgraded to intercept aircraft by adding radar, fully functional helmet mounted target tracking systems, and AAMs. More than five Mi-24s have been lost to LTTE MANPADs, and another two lost in attacks on air bases, with one heavily damaged but later returned to service.
Gulf War (1991)
An Iraqi Mi-25 Hind-D, captured during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
The Mi-24 was also heavily employed by the Iraqi Army during their invasion of Kuwait, although most were withdrawn by Saddam Hussein when it became apparent that they would be needed to help retain his grip on power in the aftermath of the war. In the ensuing 1991 uprisings in Iraq, these helicopters were used against dissidents as well as fleeing civilian refugees.
Sierra Leone Civil War (1991–2002)
Three Mi-24Vs owned by Sierra Leone and flown by South African military contractors, including Neall Ellis, were used against RUF rebels. In 1995, they helped drive the RUF from the capital, Freetown. Guinea also used its Mi-24s against the RUF on both sides of the border and was alleged to have provided air support to the LURD insurgency in northern Liberia in 2001–03.
Croatian War of Independence (1990s)
Twelve Mi-24s were delivered to Croatia in 1993, and were used effectively in 1995 by the Croatian Army in Operation Storm against the army of Krajina. The Mi-24 was used to strike deep into enemy territory and disrupt Krajina army communications. One Croatian Mi-24 crashed near the city of Drvar, Bosnia and Herzegovina due to strong winds. Both the pilot and the operator survived. The Mi-24s used by Croatia were obtained from Ukraine. One Mi-24 was modified to carry Mark 46 torpedoes. The helicopters were withdrawn from service in 2004.
First and Second Wars in Chechnya (1990s–2000s)
During the First and Second Chechen Wars, beginning in 1994 and 1999 respectively, Mi-24s were employed by the Russian armed forces.
In the first year of the Second Chechen War, 11 Mi-24s were lost by Russian forces, about half of which were lost as a result of enemy action.
Peruvian operations (1989–present)
The Peruvian Air Force received 12 Mi-25Ds from the USSR in 1983-85 after ordering them in the aftermath of 1981 Paquisha conflict with Ecuador. These have been permanently based at the Vitor airbase near La Joya ever since, operated by the 4th Air Group (formerly the 2nd) of the 211th Air Squadron. Their first deployment occurred in June 1989 during the war against Communist guerrillas in the Peruvian highlands, mainly against Shining Path. Despite the conflict continuing, it has decreased in scale and is now limited to the jungle areas of Valley of Rivers Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro (VRAE).
Peru employed Mi-25s against Ecuadorian forces during the short Cenepa conflict in early 1995. The only loss occurred on 7 February, when a FAP Mi-25 was downed after being hit in quick succession by at least two – probably three – 9K38 Igla shoulder-fired missiles during a low-altitude mission over the Cenepa valley. The three crewmen were killed.
Sudanese Civil War (1995–2005)
In 1995, the Sudanese Air Force acquired six Mi-24s for use in Southern Sudan and the Nuba mountains to engage the SPLA. At least two aircraft were lost in non-combat situations within the first year of operation. A further twelve were bought in 2001, and used extensively in the oil fields of Southern Sudan. Mi-24s were also deployed to Darfur in 2004–5.
First and Second Congo Wars (1996–2003)
Three Mi-24s were used by Mobutu's army and were later acquired by the new Air Force of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These were supplied to Zaire in 1997 as part of a French-Serbian contract. At least one was flown by Serbian mercenaries. One hit a power line and crashed on 27 March 1997, killing the three crew and four passengers. Zimbabwean Mi-24s were also operated in coordination with the Congolese Army.
The United Nations peacekeeping mission employed Indian Air Force Mi-24/-35 helicopters to provide support during the Second Congo War. The IAF has been operating in the region since 2003.
Conflict in Republic of Macedonia (2001)
The Military of the Republic of Macedonia acquired used Ukrainian Mi-24Vs. They were used frequently against Albanian insurgents during the 2001 conflict in Macedonia. The main areas of action were in Tetovo, Radusha and Aracinovo.