The second batch of Mi-8 helicopters will be delivered to Belarus in late May – early June 2017, learned from Belarusian Defense Minister Andrei Ravkov during the ceremony held on 28 November to hand over six Mi-8MTV-5 combat and transport helicopters to the 50th air base of the Belarusian Air Force and Air Defense Command.
The Belarusian Defense Minister said he believes that the new helicopters will be mastered by the personnel as soon as possible. “By late May — early June we are going to get another six helicopters and will use a full-fledged squadron,” said Andrei Ravkov.
The contract on acquiring 12 military helicopters Mi-8MTV-5 from the holding company Russian Helicopters was signed during the international defense technology expo Army 2015 in Russia.
Director General of the Russian company Alexander Mikheyev noted that the handover of the first batch of helicopters made by the Kazan helicopter company to the Belarusian air base was an important event for the Russian helicopter industry. “These helicopters are some of the world's best. They have earned a good reputation in all the hot spots and special operations. We will honor our contractual commitments on time and in a quality manner. We are going to provide maintenance support to these helicopters through their lifecycle as part of the existing contracts,” he stated.
According to the source, the contract was a high-priority one for the Russian company. “We fulfilled all the requirements of the Belarusian side in full. The options were chosen to match requirements of the Belarusian Air Force and bearing in mind what kind of missions the helicopters will carry out later on. We intended to produce a helicopter capable of flying in any weather in day and night conditions and carrying out versatile missions,” said Alexander Mikheyev.
After the handover ceremony Chief of the General Staff of the Belarusian army, First Deputy Defense Minister Oleg Belokonev talked to reporters. He pointed out that the modernization of the Belarusian army proceeds in accordance with the schedule. “We have plans for all the stages. Getting the rather unique helicopters [Mi-8MTV-5] is one of the stages. It is a remarkable machine that has been seen in all the hot spots of the planet. It is a very effective fire support instrument and a good transport vehicle,” he said.
The Mi-8MTV-5 helicopter model is fitted with modern piloting, navigation, radio communication, and targeting solutions. The model is designed to carry out a number of tasks, including combat and transport operations. The body has been redesigned to increase the cargo load. The number of seats has been increased by a third. Now a Mi-8MTV-5 helicopter can land up to 35 paratroopers or transport up to 12 injured, who are accompanied by medics.
The helicopter has been fitted with a direct deployment system that allows four paratroopers to rope down to the ground at the same time. The piloting equipment has been fitted with night vision solutions. The helicopter is capable of carrying out missions in day and night time at low altitudes in complicated weather conditions in addition to being able to land and lift off in greenfield conditions.
The Mi-8 helicopter has been in production for decades and has become recognized as one of the world's best helicopters in its category. So far over 12,000 helicopters have been made and sold to over 100 countries.