Russian Helicopters: HIP, a Market Opportunity

With an estimated 17,000+ built since its first flight on 9 July 1961, the Mil Mi-8 Hip and its derivatives is the most-produced rotary wing aircraft in the world. The medium twin-turbine transport helicopter has civilian and military operators in more than 80 countries and is still in production. Transport, armed transport, airborne command, airborne jamming, mine laying, mine clearing, reconnaissance, observation, medical evacuation, search and rescue, combat search and rescue, passenger transport, VIP transport, flying crane, polar exploration and crop spraying are but a few of the many roles for which specialised versions have been built. Most of these roles are peaceful, but in some cases the helicopter needs to be armed for self-defence or for protection of own troops of civilians. That is for example the case in the roles of armed transport, armed reconnaissance, convoy protection and combat search and rescue. As many thousands of Mi-8s serve in one of these military roles, arming the type is a very rewarding opportunity. FN Herstal is on the verge of entering this market.


The number of versions and roles of the Mi-8 Hip and its derivatives are almost countless. Some versions for dedicated roles were presented at MAKS 2009. They range from medical evacuation (MEDEVAC, Mi-8AMT shown)...


... over border control (shown is Mi-8AMT RF-43885 of the Federal Customs Service of the Russian Federation (Федеральная Таможенная Служба Российской Федерации ФТС РФ))...


... fire fighting (shown is Mi-8MTV-1 RF-32780 of the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations (Министерство по Чрезвычайным Ситуациям России МЧС России))…

Mi-8 Cargo

... and internal or under-slung load carriage (shown is Mi-8MB RF-32820 of МЧС России)…


... to armed transport (shown Mi-8MTV-5 27 Red).




In June 2009, it was already revealed at Le Bourget by both Russian helicopter manufacturer Mil and Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport that Mil was willing to equip its Mi-8 Hind armed transport helicopter with a weapons suite produced by FN Herstal on request of a not further disclosed Middle-Eastern client.

 FN Herstal was present at MAKS for the first time in 2009 and its presence was not only meant to support this possible deal with Mil, but also to advertise its products on the Russian market as reliable, proven in many countries and with a good ratio between price and quality. FN Herstal’s products are after all already equipping nearly all types of helicopters built by almost all European and American manufacturers, but are up till now completely absent on the Russian market. What FN Herstal has to offer is an entire gamut of fixed and pod mounted in axis guns, as well as window, door or ramp pintle-mounted weapons. “The potential of the Russian market with its large numbers of Kamov and Mil helicopters operating worldwide is huge for FN Herstal as a supplier”, commented Christophe Heron, Head of Marketing of FN Herstal’s Systems Division, at MAKS 2009.

 Mil’s Maksim Zelinsky confirmed at MAKS 2009 that there was already a general understanding about the deal between Mil, the  Middle-Eastern client, Rosoboronexport and FN Herstal, but that further talks would take place during MAKS 2009 to further explore a request by the client to enlarge the weapons suite with FN Herstal rocket pods.


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 © Jos Schoofs (Sept 2009)


Last updated 23/09/09 15:06   Daniel Brackx