Modernization of the Polish Mi-24 attack helicopters continues

WARSAW, (BM) – The modernization of the Polish Mi-24 attack helicopters continues, learned according Col. Waldemar Bogusławski, Deputy Head of the Armament Inspectorate for Aviation and Maritime Technology and citing Defence24.

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“Only the weapon system and the display system will be modernized in the Mi-24. We have completed the analysis in this regard and we are waiting for the final assessment of the Basic State Security Interest” said Col. Waldemar Bogusławski during Defence24 Day. This means that the implementation of this decades-delayed program to restore the ability to combat armored vehicles by attack helicopters has a chance of accelerating.

This declaration was made by Col. Bogusławski from the IU during the panel “Development of the Polish Army helicopter fleet.” Challenges and Prospects is quite fundamental for the operational capabilities of the Land Forces aviation. It also indicates that this program was considered a priority because the analytical and conceptual phase and technical dialogues can last for many years. In the case of the modernization of Mi-24 helicopters, the procedure was launched in January last year, a month later the list of 15 participants of the dialogue was known and, as can be seen, until September this year. the dialogue procedure was closed.

Simultaneously with the dialogue, in September 2019, fatigue tests of the Mi-24D hull structure were started at PZL-Świdnik, which are aimed at “confirming the fatigue durability ensuring the performance of 5 500 flight hours and 14 000 landings” – as we read in the contract description. It is about determining whether the structure of the Mi-24D and Mi-24W helicopters will be operational long enough for their modernization to be justified.

This means that while work related to the preparation of the modernization of the Mi-24 helicopters in the scope specified by IU may be carried out, the conclusion of the contract will probably be possible next year, and the delivery of modernized machines in 2-3 years.

On the one hand, this is good news, because the modernization can proceed quickly, as long as the work is not stopped by procedural issues, such as the Ministry of National Defense, which can take years to determine whether there is a Basic State Security Interest in a given case. Undoubtedly, it would be beneficial to carry out the work quickly.

In fact, we are talking about restoring the Mi-24 helicopters the real ability to perform the basic operational tasks for which they are intended, i.e. fighting armored vehicles and other important purposes with the use of guided missiles. Currently, the only helicopter realistically armed with missiles is the Mi-2, but due to the fact that these are Malutka missiles from the mid-1960s, they are hardly effective and are mainly used for training. The Mi-24 ran out of post-Soviet ammunition at least a decade ago, but they needed a newer solution earlier.

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According to the statement of Col. Bogusławski, the modernization will primarily include the integration of guided missiles and the optoelectronic head necessary for their guidance. Perhaps the changes will also include the integration of 70mm unguided missiles and new barrel armament, but this was never a priority in this program. It can be expected that the modernization in this respect will be similar to that carried out jointly by WZL1, ITWL, Mesko and the Israeli company Rafael, the effect of which was the Mi-24D / W modernization proposal presented at MPSO 2019, although the entire scope of the modernization presented at last year’s MSPO was wider, than just arming and visualization.

Regarding these two points, this could mean the integration of the different versions of the Spike guided missiles and the Toplite MHD optoelectronic head for their guidance, which, like the missiles, was developed by Rafael. It is a newer model of the same system that is used on the W-3PL Głuszec helicopters. In the first half of the year, Rafael and PCO concluded an agreement on the basis of which warheads of this type for the Mi-24 are to be manufactured jointly by both companies.

After their integration, the new Mi-24 armament options will include various types of Spike missiles that could be produced at Mesko, Spike-ER2 missiles with a high degree of compatibility with the existing LR / LR2, and heavier NLOS. The 70 mm unguided rockets offered by Mesko and the air-to-air Piorun missiles developed by this company should be supplemented.

If the modernization actually covers only weapons and optoelectronic systems, the Mi-24 self-defense systems, which are not sufficient to protect against common types of anti-aircraft systems, will not be modified as part of this work. On the modern battlefield, helicopters without effective self-defense systems will be highly exposed to the enemy’s influence.

There is also no question of replacing the engines, which could increase the performance and reduce operating costs. So it can be said that the quick modernization of the Mi-24 in the given range is a step in the right direction, but the question remains about its scope. Perhaps it will be possible to return to the modernization of self-defense measures on the Mi-24 later, when the configuration of Perkoz helicopters is known, e.g. by using modular systems.

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