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Mi-24 HIND - Development

In the first half of the 1960's, Mikhail Leontyevich Mil, the designer and scientist under whose supervisionthe piston and gas-turbine Mi-1, Mi-4, Mi-6, Mi-2, and other helicopters were created, proposed developing a special combat helicopter for the armed forces. Many military leaders and aviation specialists received this proposal, to put it mildly, with bewilderment, some even very negatively. A debate ensued. As its participants - veterans of helicopter building - tell it, it was quite a sharp debate, for it involved a technically quite complex and long-term program, the end result of which was not clear to everyone.

The opponents of M.L. Mil, in principle, favored building a new type of helicopter for the army. The military conflict in Korea in the 1950's and a number of military exercises had shown the effectiveness of these aircraft in combat operations when used for transportand liaison, evacuating wounded, conducting reconnaissance, and adjusting artillery fire. The helicopter was proving its worth for these and similar purposes, said theopponents of the new program, but it was simply utopia tobuild a helicopter for use on the battlefield, where armored tanks reign on the ground and above them - swift supersonic aircraft with powerful armament. It was perfectly obvious that the likelihood of a helicopter surviving in the skies of a modern battle, even for a shorttime, was close to zero.

The opponents of developing and putting into service a specialized helicopter justified their negative attitude with, at first glance, quite convincing comparisons and examples. Was it logical now, in the 1960's, to offer the armed forces for use on the battlefield a helicopter having a speed that is nearly 10 times less than that of a modern airplane which it will encounter when carrying out its mission, and armor that is 20-25 times thinner and weaponry caliber that is 10 times less than that of the tanks it is supposed to attack? Do the designers really believe that the crew of the helicopter they are proposing will have even some chances of carrying out a combat mission and surviving in contact with such enemies? The success of an attack even on infantry subunits was doubtful. The thing is, besides the usual barreled weapons, as dangerous to a low-flying helicopter as a large-caliber machinegun, they also have portable surface-to-air missile systems. Equipped with missiles that have infrared homing heads, they are capable of destroying even supersonic aircraft, and yourmachine can develop a maximum of 300 km/h. It is no coincidence, the opponents emphasized in conclusion, that they are not building combat helicopters abroad. They simply do not make sense for them.

Such statements corresponded to the level of military knowledge and the views on the capabilities of helicopters of the early 1960's. But, as time would show, M.L. Mil and his supporters were looking farther and assessing the prospects of a future helicopter and the probable forms and methods of its combat employment in accordance with those tactical and technical capabilities which the machine they proposed would possess. Convinced that their concept was right, they began its practical implementation.

In order to be convinced of how farsighted, both in atechnical and military-technical respect, the concept of the Soviet supporters of a special "battlefield" helicopter in the 1960's was, the foreign aviation journals of the middle of the next decade published military and aviation specialists and journalists indicating that the combat helicopter was to an ever-increasing extent becoming one of the main types of defensive weapons of modern army formations. Theoretical articles, descriptions, and photographs of helicopters of NATO countries - the Cobra, Apache, and others - and examples of their employment during various exercises and "small" military conflicts took up a great number of pages. The authors noted the high effectiveness of specialized combat helicopters and emphasize their increased survivability compared to other types of vehicles and the special ability to make surprise attacks on targets and to withdraw from retaliatory attacks. To do this, in particular, their crews use minimum flight altitudes for approaching the target and attacking, and near the ground (0-15 meters) the radars "see" the target poorly and missiles with IR-homing heads lose their effectiveness.

Overall, in the late 1970's, M.L. Mil's opponents admitted the effectiveness of combat helicopters and, in particular, their high survivability when carrying out basic missions over the bat-tlefield. The designer's ideas by elements began to be implemented in practical decisions. The collective of the experimental design bureau headed by M.L. Mil became one of the first to conduct experiments on using the helicopter as a platform for guided missiles. ATGM launches were made from the Mi-1. It was the first to introduce a built-in machinegun mount as an organic weapon (on the Mi-4 helicopter). Therefore, the appearance of the prototype Mi-24 Soviet specialized combat helicopter in the skies in the late 1960's was a natural stage in the development of the advanced concept.

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