Nigeria turns to Rosoboronexport for Mi-35P Phoenix upgrade

The Nigerian Air Force plans to upgrade three of its older Mi-35 helicopters to the new Mi-35P Phoenix being offered by Rosoboronexport.

A part payment of N3.3 billion ($7,970,915.91) was authorized by the Federal Government in the 2021 Appropriation Bill.

The Nigerian Air Force operates several variants of around fifteen Mi-24/35 Hind helicopter including two second-hand Mi-35P received from Belarus in 2010, two Mi-35P and one Mi24V from Ukrain in 2008 and 2014, six second-hand but modernized Mi-35P and eight Mi-35M received from Russia in 2000 and 2012-14 respectively.


A haul of twelve brand new Mi-35Ms were ordered from Russian Helicopters in September 2015. Two were delivered in April 2017, another two helicopters arrived the next year.

Although, in January 2019, a Nigerian Air Force Mil Mi-35 crashed while providing close air support to troops of 145 Battalion at Damasak in Northern Borno State. The crash was attributed to technical malfunction.

Mil Mi-35P attack helicopter

Mi-35P Phoenix attack helicopter (Army 2021). File photo

The upgraded Mi-35P helicopter was first presented by Russia to the African nations at the  Russia-Africa Economic Forum in Sochi in 2019.

Russian Helicopters stressed, that It is providing huge potential for cooperation in servicing, modernizing and renovating the fleets.  African countries operate over 250 helicopters of Mi-24/35 type.

The Mi-35P features a number of novelties, as it is now being proposed as an affordable alternative for export operators wanting to upgrade their existing Mi-24D/V/P or Mi-35/P fleets.

The Mi-35P offers improved targeting and flight/navigation suite including the OPS-24N-1L, PrVK24-2 weapons control computer and KNEI-24E-1 navigation/display system.

Although, still retaining the airframe, rotor system and powerplant of the legacy Mi-24/35, as well as the original wings with large end-plates (used to support ATGM missile launchers), retractable undercarriage, and the TV3-117VMA engines rated at 2,225shp each at take-off mode.

Rosoboroexport is offering a life extension package together with the upgrade to render the upgraded Hind good for use for 40 years and 4,000 flight hours.

The OPS-24N-1L targeting suite with the PrVK-24-2 weapons computer allows the Mi-35P to use the 9M120-1 Ataka-VM ATGM with laser-beam guidance.

The old rotor system, combined with the retractable undercarriage and the TV3 117VMA engines with a take-off rating of 2,200shp, provides the Mi-35P with a better speed performance than that of the Mi-35M. Its maximum speed reaching 181kt (335km/h) compared to 162kt (300km/h) for the Mi-35M.

The Mi-35P also features the all-new PKV-8-35 digital autopilot to facilitate much better stability and controllability performance thus reducing the pilot workload.

It can be used as a gunship, and as a troop-carrying helicopter. The Mi-35P helicopter can be used in high mountains, in hot and humid climate, day and night.

In the summer 2020 tests of the upgraded Mi-35P (called Phoenix) was completed, and it went into serial production at Rostvertol in Rostov-on-Don. It can be used as a combat helicopter for destruction of tanks and other armored vehicles, as a troop-carrier, as an ambulance for transportation of two casualties and a medical attendant, and a cargo-carrier for transportation of cargoes inside the cargo cabin (1500 kg) and on external load sling (2400 kg).

The new Mi-35P has the upgraded round-the-clock surveillance-sighting system, new digital integrated flight system, advanced navigation and electronic indication system with multi-functional color displays. Installation of laser defense system and short range navigation and instrument landing system is said to be possible.

The armament suite of the basic version includes 23-mm nose flexible gun mount, S-8 rockets and suspended gun containers housing 23-mm gun. At the same time the renewed Mi-35P can incorporate a wide range of optional equipment and armament, including guided “air-to-surface” missiles, “air-to-air” missiles, aerial bombs etc. The Kalashnikov group announced in July 2021 the plans to integrate with the Mi-35P its advanced Vikhr anti-tank missile.

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