Mali will soon take delivery of an Mi-35M attack helicopter. The sale was announced last year and the aircraft was recently seen flying in Russia.
The helicopter was spotted in Malian colours at Rostvertol’s facility at Rostov-on-Don in March, painted in desert camouflage with a Mali air force roundel on the bottom.
News of Mali’s acquisition surfaced in September last year when Yury Demchenko, Rosoboronexport delegation head for the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition in South Africa said over the next year Russian Helicopters would deliver Mi-8/17 transport and Mi-24/35 attack helicopters to Nigeria, Mali, Angola and Sudan.
He did not, however, give the number of aircraft ordered by Mali nor the delivery dates. Mali already operates a number of older Mi-24s.
The upgraded Mi-35M features several improvements over its predecessors, such as new avionics with multifunction colour displays, more powerful Klimov VK-2500 turboshaft engines developing 2 200 hp, 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.
According to Russian Helicopters, weapons include Ataka-V or Shturm-V ant-tank missiles and Igla-V air-to-air missiles, 80 or 122 mm rockets and a GSh-231 23-mm twin-barrel cannon. In addition to weapons, the Mi-35M can carry up to eight personnel in its cabin or cargo weighing 1 500 kg while up to 2 400 kg can be carried on an external sling.
The self-protection suite includes a radar warning receiver, chaff & flare dispenser, infrared jammer and engine exhaust suppressor.
Nigeria, meanwhile, has already started receiving its twelve Mi-35Ms, which were ordered in October 2015. The first was delivered in December 2016, according to NAF Chief of Air Staff Sadique Abubakar.
Rosoboronexport hopes for more business from Africa due to peacekeeping missions, terrorism, piracy, smuggling and trafficking.