As many as 400 upgraded Mil Mi-8 utility helicopters are set to enter service with the Russian Air Force over the next eight years.
No less than 50 will be delivered before the end of 2012 and, potentially, they'll be comprised of Mil Mi-8MTV5-1s and Mi-8AMTSh versions.
Already the most widely-produced helicopter design in history, the Russian Mil Mi-8 is, therefore, set to get yet another lease of life and both of the new versions will be on show to the public at an upcoming event that celebrates the Russian Air Force's 100th anniversary.
Mi-8 Helicopter Upgrades
The Mil Mi-8 made its maiden flight in 1961. Introduced in 1967, it's been operated by more than 50 nations during the last 45 years and over 17,000 examples have been built. Some 30 different Mi-8 helicopter upgrades have been developed and they include models that specialise in search and rescue, assault transport and radar-jamming.
Powered by a pair of Klimov TV3 turboshaft engines, the Mi-8 has a top speed of 260 kilometres per hour, a range of 450 kilometres and the capacity to accommodate up to 24 passengers. It can also be equipped with a maximum of 1,500 kilograms of ordnance, such as anti-tank guided missiles and rockets.
Upgraded Russian Air Force Mils
"By the end of the year, up to 50 of the latest Mi-8 models will operate, and by 2020 the air force plans to have more than 400 new Mi-8s", representative Colonel Vladimir Drik told the RIA Novosti news agency in a statement on the upgraded Russian Air Force Mils.
The Russian Air Force's centenary will be celebrated with a huge event in St. Petersburg, where examples of most of its hardware will be on show. These include Sukhoi Su-34 multirole bombers, MiG-29SMT and MiG-31 fighters, MiG-25 spy aircraft, Antonov An-30 and An-72 transporters and Mil-24 helicopter gunships.
That event will be on 11 August while, one day later, there'll be an airshow at Zhukovsky, in Moscow. This will include national display teams alongside a massive array of Russian airpower.
Image copyright 'Simm' - Courtesy Wikimedia Commons