Air Transportation: Giving Black Hawkski A Chance


November 10, 2012: Russia is in the midst of replacing its elderly (pre-1991 Cold War era) military helicopter fleet. This includes new gunships and upgraded transport designs. There are 167 Mi-28N gunships on order (and 45 have been delivered). There are also 180 Ka-52 armed scout helicopters on order and 49 Mi-35M (updated Mi-24s, 10 already delivered) attack helicopters.

Over 500 updated Mi-8 transports are on order, and these are already being delivered at the rate of about one a week. The Mi-8 is a 1960s design that has been updated over the years and gets the job done. There are also 38 Mi-26 heavy lift helicopters on order (six already delivered). There are also orders for 36 Ka-226 (6 delivered) and 32 Ansat-U (16 delivered) light transport helicopters. The army would also like to buy a hundred Ka-60s, which are similar to the U.S. UH-60 Black Hawk. Many aviation officers, and procurement officials, believe the updated Mi-8 is sufficient but there is some agreement that the Ka-60 “Black Hawkski” ought to be given a chance to show what it can do.

Russia has put off modernizing its military helicopters because of money shortages and more pressing issues (nuclear weapons, nuclear subs, and shortages of too many weapons and types of equipment). But now it’s at the point where the Cold War era choppers are too unreliable and too expensive to operate. In the long run, it’s cheaper, and safer, to buy new helicopters or refurbish some of the old ones.


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