Mi-8 HIP - Civil Variants
As is well known, the Mi-8 was from the outset regarded by the customers as a baseline model suitable for conversion into different variants of comfortable VIP (executive, or, in Russian terminology, 'salon') transports for the transportation and evacuation of high-ranking officials of the Party, the Government and the Armed Forces; these included a 'presidential' deluxe version for the head of the Soviet state. The first VIP ('salon') versions intended for series production and based on the Mi-8T and Mi-8P appeared in 1969 and were designated Mi-8S and Mi-8PS respectively. They had a special interior featuring comfortable armchairs for work and rest, and were equipped with a high-capacity system for governmental wireless coded communications which was constantly updated. The helicopters were produced in seven-, nine- and eleven-seat versions ( the M1-8PS-7, Mi-8PS-9 and Mi-8PS-11 respectively). To this day the Ulan-Ude plant produces VIP versions of the Mi-8 with TV2-117AG engines, designated Mi-8APS, Mi-8AP-2, Mi-8AP-4 and Mi-8TP. When the Mi-8MT entered series production, it also served as a basis for a number of VIP versions, such as the Mi-8S-1, Mi-8S-2, Mi-8MD, Mi-8MS, Mi-8MSO, M1-8MSD, Mi-8MO, Mi-8TP and others. At present similar modifications are being developed on the basis of the M1-8MTV. The VIP helicopters developed by the Mil' OKB are popular abroad, too. The Mi-17S is used by a number of foreign heads of state and military leaders.
Flying crane helicopters
In 1970 one of the production Mi-8Ts was used for testing an experimental sling system for the carriage of under sling loads possessing increased load-carrying capacity. It was attached directly to the mainframes in the cargo hold. The main cable carrying the cargo passed through a hatch in the floor of the cargo hold which could be closed by a cover. Five years later, a Mi-8T was experimentally fitted with an on-board closed-circuit TV system for monitoring the under sling load. Another flying-crane version presently in operational service - the Mi-8MTV-K - has an additional operator's cockpit with a full set of controls. Installed in place of the rear clamshell doors, it affords the operator a good view of the under sling load and of the installation site.
In 1981 two Mi-8Ts were equipped with a special 'Makfar-1 1' set of instruments for conducting aerial geophysical prospecting work in the republic of Yakutia (Eastern Siberia). In 1989 the Mi-8RF version was developed; it was fitted with the RF radiometer set for thermal imaging of the Earth's surface in the visible part of the IR spectrum. In 1990 twelve Mi-8MTs were converted to mobile weather research stations, and three years later a Mi-8MTV was reconfigured into an ecological laboratory.
Flying test beds
From the very beginning of their existence Mi-8 helicopters were used for conversion, both at the experimental production facility of the Mil' OKB and at production plants, to various flying test beds for testing new assemblies and items of equipment intended for future Mi-8 versions and for the Mi-14, Mi-24 and later the Mi-28 helicopters then under development. Other branches and institutions of the defense industry, too, used the unique capabilities of the Mi-8 for testing the products of their own technology. Numerous modifications specially developed at the Mil' Moscow Helicopter Plant were used in the process of testing prototype aircraft, helicopters, missiles, ships etc. The capacious cargo hold of the helicopter proved very convenient for the installation of assemblies to be tested and experimental devices and instruments. Mi-8s often served as flying test beds in the research institutes and design bureaux engaged in the development and testing of equipment for different branches of defense and civil industry - for example, in the Research Institute of Aeronautical Equipment (NIIAO) and in the Leninets (Leninist) Scientific and Production Association (now the Leninets Holding Co).
Other civil versions
In 1975 a special version for agricultural duties was developed on the basis of the Mi-8T. Designated Mi-8ATS, it was fitted with external strap-on devices -hoppers for chemicals and dusters for spreading them. Another agricultural version powered by TV2-117F engines was designated Mi-8FSKh. A similar variant powered by TV3-1 1 7MT engines received the designation Mi-8MTSKh. In 1977 the Mi-8TL version made its appearance; it was intended for fighting of forest fires. A similar modification, but on the basis of the Mi-8MT, was developed in 1983. A year earlier, a Mi-8T was converted into a version equipped with the ZSVS broadcasting station. In 1986 special 'arctic' versions of the Mi-8MT and Mi-8MTV were built at the Kazan' plant; they were provided with heating and fitted with extra fuel tanks and additional communications equipment. Besides, numerous other transport and passenger modifications of the Mi-8, Mi-8MT (Mi-17) and Mi-8MTV (Mi-17-lV) were developed, tailored to the needs of various customers at home and abroad who operate the helicopters under special natural and climatic conditions. They differed in avionics and life-support equipment; sometimes they received special designations. At present a fire-fighting version of the Mi-8MTV is under development; it will be fitted with an under-slung water tank incorporating a foaming agent container, and with a pump unit carried externally on the onboard hoist.
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