The Army could consider the conservation or moderate modernization of outgoing Mi-24 helicopters
The Czech Army is considerably outdated in many respects in terms of the military technology. Purchases of new technology are realized slowly or only partially. Nevertheless, our pilots will already see substantial innovation in 2023 when the delivery of new American helicopters Viper and Venom is planned. Previous practice, in terms of replacing existing military equipment by new equipment, meant to simply sell the old discarded equipment. Kovošrot was one of the frequent repurchasers. However, is the right solution to rely only on the new technology that we will have likewise in small quantities? Or would it be better to keep the backdoor and not to get rid of the old technologies given the security situation in the world?
Picture: Legendary gunship Mi-24/35 with a motive of a tiger| author’s archive
The Army of the Czech Republic will acquire new helicopters in 2023. This means gradual phasing out of the operation of the legendary Mi-24/Mi-35 (Hind) gunship in particular. It has a great reputation in the Army of the Czech Republic and still evokes respect. Its firepower, as well as the transport capacity are very good. However, the ravages of time have significantly influenced the technology. For example, the Hind of the heading 3361 reached altitude of a few meters during the stress test in the morning hours when a technical problem occurred. The rotor blade of the compressor turbine was damaged. It led to the engine failure and hard landing on the ground. The accident had no casualties and the machine itself was moderately damaged. The spokeswoman of the General Staff, the Colonel Magdalena Dvořáková, stated that the machine would be subsequently used for spare parts for other functional machines.
Picture: Two legends – Helicopter Mi-35/24V of the heading 3366 "Alien" (in the foreground) and the helicopter Mi-35/24V of the heading 3361 in the tiger camouflage | author’s archive
Therefore, it was a relatively logical solution with respect to ever-deteriorating state of supplies of spare parts and the ability to service. However, it is also useful to take into account that domestic companies have extensive experience with this technology. If we consider that the numbers are correct and subtract the ‘twenty-four’ of the heading 3361, the army should still have another 16 machines in operation. Considering the training activities that will be gradually left behind on the Hinds there is a concrete option to choose the best pieces (to cannibalize the others) and then conserve them. Of course, there is also a possibility to rethink elimination of the original gunships and operate several pieces in parallel even after the delivery of new machines Venom/Viper. It would be an interesting alternative, at least with respect to training and comparison of combat capabilities.
Video: Helicopter Mi-35/24V in action / YouTube
At this point, the capabilities and experience of, for instance, the state-owned company LOM Praha or the companies of the Czechoslovak Group holding, especially Česká letecká servisní a.s., which is a key partner for the modernization of aircrafts and helicopters for the Czech and Slovak Army, could be evaluated. The companies offer the ‘turn-key’ solutions that cover the technical design, production, integration and certification of modern avionics systems, which are slowly becoming a stumbling block in case of Mi-24. Perhaps, it is really necessary to think of the backdoor. The Army of the Czech Republic would not become certainly the only army thinking in such a way.