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Kazakhstan Adds Russian-Made Helicopters to Military Aircraft Fleet

By Azamat Batyrov June 26, 2020

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The multirole Mi-35M attack helicopter is a modernized version of the Mi-24V developed by the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant and produced by Rostvertol since 2005. / Kazakhstan Defense Ministry

Earlier this week, Kazakhstan received the last batch of Mi-35M transport and combat helicopters — a rotorcraft manufactured by Rostvertol, a subsidiary of Russian Helicopters.

‘‘Four new multi-functional attack helicopters Mi-35M arrived at the air base of the Kazakhstan Air Defense Forces located in the west of the country, as part of the military rearmament program carried out in the Armed Forces,’’ reads a statement issued by Kazakhstan’s Defense Ministry on Tuesday.

The choppers left for Kazakhstan following an agreement signed in 2018 between the defense ministry of the Central Asia’s largest and wealthiest country and Rosoboronexport, the sole intermediary agency for Russia’s exports and imports of defense-related and dual use products, technologies and services. In total, Kazakhstan ordered 12 units of the Mi-35M helicopters. The very first batch arrived in the country in 2017.  

Kazakhstani pilots have already been trained to use the new helicopters, the ministry said.

The multirole Mi-35M attack helicopter is a modernized version of the Mi-24V developed by the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant and produced by Rostvertol since 2005.

The Russian-made helicopter can be operated at high temperatures and in mountainous terrain, while its design ensures low noise levels, greater combat resilience and less maintenance.

The Mi-35M is capable of transporting passengers and cargo loads weighing up to 2,400 kg in the cabin or using an external load, and can be used while transporting up to eight paratroopers, military supplies, or other cargo. The aircraft can be used to carry sick or injured individuals, as well as medical personnel. The chopper is also equipped with the latest navigation system, including a thermal imager and TV channels, laser range finder and location finder for night combat.

Choppers of this kind are used in Russia, Venezuela, Brazil, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Uzbekistan, Mali and Serbia. 

Kazakhstan — home to a population of nearly 19 million — has spent about $1.7 billion on its military in 2019, which is 19 percent more than the previous year, according to estimates by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), an independent research institute that tracks global military expenditures. As a result, the Central Asian country ranked 14th in the world in terms of the biggest relative increases in military expenditures last year. 

The lion’s share of Kazakhstani military-technical purchases are imported from Russia, which is considered to be the second-largest military power in the world after the US. 

Between 1995 and 2017, Russia has supplied Kazakhstan with Sukhoi Su-27 fighter (14 units), Aero L-39 jet trainer (13 units), Ilyushin Il-76 strategic airlifter, as well as eight Sukhoi Su-30 super-maneuverable fighter aircraft. Russian-made helicopters in Kazakhstan are estimated to be at around 200 units, including the Mi-8/17 and Ka-32A11BC multi-purpose helicopters; the Mi-24V and Mi-35M transport and combat helicopters; and the Mi-26T heavy transport helicopter.

Last year, the Russian state arms contractor, Rostec has announced its intent to help Kazakhstan launch local production of the Russian-made Mi-8 multi-purpose helicopters – the first such deal between Russia and a country in Central Asia. The agreement calls for Russia to produce and deliver a total of 45 choppers by 2025, help launch a system for supporting the life cycle of helicopters and train engineering personnel.