The Pakistan Army Aviation Corps (PAAC) took delivery of four Russian-made Mi-35M attack helicopters, Pakistan’s Defense Export Promotion Organization (DEPO) confirmed in a statement issued at this year’s International Military-Technical Forum (Army 2017), which took place August 22-27 in Moscow, according to local media reports.
“The contract was signed, we received all four cars [Mi-35Ms] and now we get new equipment,” DEPOs Brigadier General Waheed Mumtaz told reporters in Moscow. PAAC are now getting acquainted with the new equipment. Based on the gunships’ performance a follow-up order for additional helicopters is under consideration, Mumtaz said. The general also noted that other Pakistani orders of Russian military equipment might take place depending on the Pakistani military’s experience with the helicopters.
Russia officially lifted an arms embargo against Pakistan, in place since the Soviet-Afghan War, in June 2014.
Pakistan and Russia agreed to the $153 million helicopter deal during then-Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif’s visit to Russia in June 2016. A preliminary contract was concluded at the Pakistan Army General Headquarters in Rawalpindi in August 2015. Pakistan military sources indicate that PAAC could purchase a total of 20 Mi-35 helicopters in the coming years. “Given the cost of building the necessary Mi-35M logistics and maintenance infrastructure, expanding the fleet beyond four aircraft would financially be a sound decision for the Pakistani military,” I explained in December 2016. The Mi-25M is a formidable weapons platform, as I noted elsewhere (See: “Confirmed: Pakistan Is Buying New Attack Helicopters From Russia”):
The Mi-35M attack helicopter, the export version of the Mi-24 gunship, was developed by the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant and has been produced in Russia since 2005. Next to serving in the Russian military, the aircraft has been exported to Azerbaijan, Brazil, Iraq, and Venezuela.
The company website of Russian Helicopters notes that the Mi-35 is particularly suited for mountainous terrain and can be deployed “round the clock” in adverse weather conditions. The website notes that the helicopter offers “combat use of guided and unguided weapons in regular and challenging climate conditions” and is “operational for attack flights at altitudes of 10-25 m daytime and 50 m at night over land or water.”
The helicopter can be deployed for a host of different missions, including transporting up to eight paratroopers and carrying military supplies weighing up to 1,500 kg internally and 2,400 kg externally.
It is unknown in what configuration the helicopters were delivered. The gunship is fitted with a mounted twin-barrel GSh-23V 23 millimeter cannon, and can also carry 80 and 120 millimeter rockets, as well as anti-tank guided missiles. The Pakistan Army is specifically looking to enhance its close-air support capability for counter-insurgency operations as well as anti-tank warfare.