Mali’s military has received two Mi-24P attack helicopters from Russia as part of continuing efforts to bolster the country’s armed forces.
The Forces Armees Maliennes (FAMA) said a batch of equipment from Russia was received by Defence Minister Sadio Camara at Bamako-Senou Airport on 30 March. The equipment, delivered by a Russian Air Force An-124 transport under a longstanding agreement with Russia, included attack helicopters and radar systems (Protivnik-GE/59N6-TE mobile radars).
“This new equipment will play a crucial role in strengthening FAMA’s operational capacity in their mission to secure people and property,” the Malian military said.
“Today we can proudly say that our National Army is able to operate autonomously without asking for help from anybody,” Camaro said, adding that the new equipment will contribute to the success of the FAMA.
Photos showed two Mi-24P ‘Hind F’ helicopters were delivered. These are older model hinds, distinguished by their fixed side-mounted 30 mm GSh-30-2K twin-barrel cannon.
The Mi-24Ps add to the four Mi-35s received earlier from Russia. The final two Mi-35s arrived in Russia in January 2021, following a 2016 contract for four of the aircraft, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The first two were delivered in 2017. SIPRI also reports that four Mi-171Sh helicopters were received in 2021 under a $61 million deal that includes training and weaponry.
Mali’s Air Force already operates a number of older Mi-24s, but the upgraded Mi-35M is far more capable. It features several improvements over its predecessors, such as new avionics with multifunction colour displays, more powerful Klimov VK-2500 turboshaft engines developing 2 200 shp, fibreglass main rotor blades, main rotor head with elastomeric joints, a new swashplate and X-type tail rotor. The Mi-35M’s fuselage has shortened stub wings and fixed landing gear. The helicopter’s sighting system has a thermal imager, TV camera and laser rangefinder and designator.
Mali’s Air Force has grown over the last several years, with fixed and rotary wing acquisitions. In October 2017 Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita welcomed new aircraft into the Air Force’s inventory, including a C-295W transport, two Y-12E light utility aircraft and a Super Puma transport helicopter (out of two ordered). In July 2018 Mali received four Embraer Super Tucano light attack and trainer aircraft from Brazil after ordering them in 2015. In April 2019 Mali’s Air Force received a Cessna 208 Caravan configured for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) that was donated by the European Union to combat terrorism and insecurity.
The new aircraft will be used to support Mali’s counter-insurgency and terrorism efforts. The country has been in turmoil since 2012, when Tuareg rebels took over the north and advanced towards the capital, Bamako.