How Russians tried to sell Mi-24 attack helicopters to police
Mil Mi-24 Hind is one of the most notorious attack helicopters in the world, famous for its firepower. In the 1990s a police variant was designed... with cannons.
The mid-90s was a difficult period for all ex-soviet manufacturers. As the Soviet Union crumbled, its research and manufacturing facilities were transformed into companies, which had to adapt to a capitalist economy.
With government orders running thin, every possible niche for revenue was examined. Instead of stopping production of ageing and unwanted Mi-24, the Mil Helicopter Plant decided to try adapting it for civilian needs.
Hence the Mi-24PS variant. It was presented to the public at MAKS airshow in 1995 with hopes to attract the attention of various mostly post-soviet police forces. Two versions were advertised: the search-and-rescue one, with a satellite communication system, a floodlight, and a set of loudspeakers; and the assault one, having additional equipment for quickly dispatching a team of special operations personnel, and a GSh-30-2K dual-barrel 30 mm autocannon.
The problem with the project was that under all the civilian systems and white paint it still was an incredibly powerful, armored Mi-24P attack helicopter. Although exceptionally fast, the Hind was not exactly maneuverable, and had difficulties hovering. Transforming it into an utility helicopter meant carrying around a lot of dead weight, and being unable to perform tasks with accuracy and precision lighter helicopters could provide.
Understanding that such a helicopter would be impossible to wield in urban environments, Mil tried to market it as perfect for remote and difficult to access locations. Nevertheless, the company already offered vehicles precisely for that – both large Mi-8 and small Mi-2 were well suited for police use, and remained popular.
But, of course, there was one thing none of utility-oriented choppers could offer: the image of the charging Hind. It is possible that the team behind the idea hoped to attract orders on the infamy of the model alone. The Russian police – Militsyia – did not have a good reputation at the time, and an idea that in case something goes wrong they will come aboard the Hind (and possibly solve the problem with the help of 50 high-explosive 30 mm shells per second) could have helped that.
Nevertheless, the idea did not pick up. Only one prototype of Mi-24PS (search-and-rescue variant) was completed for the airshow. No orders were registered, and the model remained a historical curiosity, the only police attack helicopter. At least for now.
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