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Mil-Helicopters in World-Wide Service, Part 3
By Tom Cooper
Nov 26, 2004, 06:53


Pakistan Army meanwhile operates a number of Mi-17s, including this Mi-171Sh, serialled 58626. Interestingly, the first Pakistani Mi-8s were examples flown into the country by defecting Afghan pilots.


In 1978 Peru purchased five giant Mi-6s - at the time the largest helicopters in the World. Alone the gearbox and rotor head of these behemots weight 3.200kg!


Rwanda purchased at least two Mi-24Vs from Russia, in 1997. Additional examples were subsequently ordered from Consolidated Sales Corporation, but there is no confirmation for their delivery.

Sierra Leone

In 1995, when the government of Sierra Leone contracted the South African company "Executive Outcomes" to help it in the war against Libyan- and Liberian-backed RUF-rebels, two Mi-17s were purchased to support the mercenaries. These were nick-named named "Daisy" (shown here) and "Bokkie" by their crews for their handling in flight (Daisy flew like a cow, Bokkie - which was painted dark grey overall - like a springbok). Both helicopters had their rear doors removed for easier entry and exit. Daisy might have had some kind of a serial applied on the boom, but this was unreadable because of the thick exhaust trace.

The Republic of Sierra Leone acquired two Mi-24s from the Ukraine. Originally flown by a contracted Ukrainian crew, the sole RSLMAF Mi-24 remaining operational is since 2000 flown by the South African mercenary Neil Ellis, with French and Fijian gunners, and seven Ethiopian mechanics.

Last ditch defense: this was the Mi-24 flown by South African "mercenary" Neal Ellis, in the period 1998-1999. It remains unknown if it was the same Mi-24 as already seen in different camouflage, but refurbished and repainted, or the second Hind purchased for RSLMF already in the early 1990s. In too many cases this helicopter and Ellis were all that was left between the gangs of RUF rebels, the Sierra Leonean government and - foremost - the citizens of Freetown.


Somalia is known to have operated a small number - probably not more than six or eight - of Mi-4s as well. The example depicted here was seen at one parade for dictator Habre, in the early 1970s.

One of few Somali Air Corps Mi-8Ms that survived intact the chaos in Somalia of the late 1980s and early 1990s was CC-72. It was found in derelict condition by US Marines at Mogadischu airfield, in 1991. The national marking applied on the boom is not confirmed: the few available photographs of this helicopter show in in a very poor condition, with only a very faded light blue field in that place.

Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan Air Force operates around a dozen of Mi-17s of different sub-variants, mainly acquired from the Ukraine.

One of six Mi-25/35Ps purchased for SLAF from the Ukraine in 2001, and updated with a FLIR-turret, Western RWR and other modern avionics.


Early Sudanese Mi-25s were donated by Libya, in the late 1980s.

In 2002 Sudan purchased a number of Mi-24Ps from Russia. Known serials from this batch include 910 and 920, indicating that perhaps up to ten Hinds were delivered.


Rarely seen Syrian Mi-6, with roundel and flash that were in use on SyAAF aircraft and helicopters from 1963 until 1971. Syrian operated a very small number of Mi-6s in the early 1970s: their eventual fate remains unknown.

The Syrian Air Force received a large number of Mi-8s during the 1960s, and especially in the 1970s. Syrian Mi-8s became involved in a number of daring commando attacks, beginning with the successful assault against the Israeli observation post at Mt. Hermon, on the first day of the "Teshreen War", in 1973. This Mi-8 was sighted few days later, at low level over Damascus.

Syrian Air Force ordered up to 40 Mi-25s in the ealy 1980s. "2801", depicted here as seen over Damascus, in 1981, was probably the second example delivered.

It remains unknown if all the 40 Mi-25s ordered for SyAAF were ever delivered. Contrary to Russian and Ukrainian press-reports the type did not take part in fighting against the Israelis in Lebanon, in 1982, and ever since is a pretty rare sight. "2808", depicted here, was seen over Lebanon, in late 1980s.


One of between seven and nine Mi-17s bought by Uganda directly from Russia, in 1997.


Yemen (North and South)

One of at least four Mi-4s supplied from USSR to (North) Yemen in the late 1960s was this example, coded "YE-AAV". The code appears to have been repeated in Arabic further down the boom: sSadly, the sole photograph showing this helicopter is not clear enough for details to be seen.

The Yemen Air Force still operates a number of Mi-8s delivered from the USSR in the mid-1980s. This is also the approximate time when this example, serialled "822", was seen for the last time. Note the quite unconventional way the fin flash was applied. Also of interest is that the roundel was applied on the underside of the fuselage.

This Yemen Air Force Mi-25 was seen relatively recently, armed with gun- and rocket-pods, underway over the Sa'ada Province. Sadly, the serial remains unknown. Yemen is known to have received a squadron-worth of Mi-25s from USSR in the mid-1980s, but none were known to have remained operational after a number of coups and the civil war in 1994-1995: it is therefore possible that this example was acquired subsequently from either Russia or the Ukraine.

(Former) Yugoslavia

The air force of the former Yugoslavia (JRViPVO) used to operate a large number of early Mi-8Ms. Organized in at least three helicopter brigades, these saw extensive service during the wars in Slovenia and Croatia, and early stages of the war in Bosnia and Hercegovina. Most of former JRViPVO Mi-8s were taken by what became the Air Force of Serbia and Montenegro, while slightly more than dozen ended in service with the air arm of the so-called "Republika Srpska" (Bosnian-Serbs): the Croats and Slovenes captured only one intact example each. Mi-8s remain main medium transport helicopters of the Air Force of Serbia and Montenegro until today.


Zimbabwe is meanwhile also operating up to six Mi-35Ps, all of which were upgraded with advanced avionics in 2001.

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