The official delegation from Serbian Ministry of Defence, led by Aleksandar Vulin, the Minister of Defence, has recently visited the ´Rosviertol´ aviation plant in Rostov-on-Don, where the Mil Mi-35M helicopters for Serbia are manufactured.
Vulin was lately visiting Belarus and Russia at the opportunity of the 2019 ´Army Games´, in which Serbian Armed Forces are participating. Serbia, together with Uzbekistan, won the Sniper Frontier competition (Private 1st class Ivan Obrenović from the Special Brigade) and was placed third in Military Rally, the driver competition. During this visit, the Serbian Minister of Defence also oficially met with Sergey Shoygu, the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation.
Shortly after returning from Russia, Aleksandar Vulin was the special guest of the RTS (Radio Television of Serbia) morning programme, where he announced that Serbian Armed Forces were invited to participate in the 2020 Victory Parade in Moscow.
The visit in Rostov-on-Don was one of the most important points in Vulin´s agenda, significantly emphasizing the current political orientation and future aspirations of Serbian leadership. During its stay in Rostov, the Serbian delegation met with the ´Rosviertol´ authorities, seen the static display of four already manufactured attack helicopters and then the flying demonstration of Mi-35M.
Vulin underlined, that purchase of Mi-35M and necessary training programme for the pilots and ground maintenance crew was possible only because Aleksandar Vučić, the Serbian President, and his budget policy. According to Vulin, it included not only the purchase and training, but also the improvement of the flying and ground crews material conditions.
´We have come into possession of the best helicopters in the world. They are not only new; they are the best in the world in their class.´ the Ministry of Defence said. ´The Serbian Armed Forces have acquired a completely new capability, something that we have been unable to do so far, and all those who refer to these helicopters as “Vučić’s flying tanks” are right. These are the flying tanks, and these are the capabilities able to protect our space, the capabilities able reinforce the combat readiness of our country,´ he added.
It was stressed by Vulin and other Serbian officials, that this purchase meant the huge change in the Serbian Armed Forces, that have so far been based on the technology born in the Soviet Union era. Now, both Mi-35M and the nine Airbus H145M helicopters the Serbian Air Force is now receiving, are offering the new capabilities, pushing the country air force into the new heights.
Major Dobrosav Drndarević, Commander of 714th Anti-Armor Helicopter Squadron from Kraljevo, couldn´t say enough good things about Mi-35M helicopter characteristic. ´Now we have the ability to perform our tasks and what we are meant for, and that is combat engagement in both day and night conditions as well as in complex meteorological conditions.´ he said. ´We also get an additional level of protection since the helicopter is shielded – the main systems, the motor, the rotor, as well as the protection of the cockpit and the pilots themselves.´ Major Drndarević also pointed, that because of this helicopter, they were allowed to change from analogue to the digital era, especially regarding the additional equipment helping the crews to perform their tasks.
Also, the maintenance personnel from 98th Airborne Brigade emphasized; this helicopter is a type that never was used by them before. ´The systems are new, they are much more demanding, more advanced; but they are also more reliable and this ushers a whole new range of possibilities to us – new experiences, new books, new instructions, new manuals, and thus we are in for a lot of work,´ said Captain Miloš Milošević, a technology expert with the Company for Maintenance.
Mil Mi-35 helicopter is a comprehensive modernized variant of well-known Mi-24 attack helicopter, manufactured since 2005 and already operated by air forces of Russia, Venezuela, Brazil and Azerbaijan.
Although primarily designed for destroying all types of ground-based targets, the helicopter can be easily adopted into ground assault, medevac or transport missions. The transport cabin allows to carry up to 8 paratroopers, or 1,500 kg of load. Additionally, Mi-35M is also fitted with an external sling system, expanding its cargo carrying capacity to 2,400 kg.
The glass cockpit is equipped with the latest navigation and avionics suite with multifunction coloured displays, target sights system that includes a thermal imager and TV channels, laser range finder and location finder. Mi-35M armament include two GSh-23V 23mm cannons in the chin-mounted turret and the wide range of guided and unguided rocket missiles.
All quotations and photos: Republic of Serbia Ministry of Defence, the information from Serbian MoD press releases were used.