Brazilian Air Force Formally Inducts New Mi-35 into Service as AH-2 Sabre
20 Apr 2010
The Brazilian Air Force (Força Aérea Brasileira - FAB) formally inducted three newly acquired Mi-35M 'Hind' helicopters into service on April 17, 2010. Named the AH-2 Sabre in FAB service, the attack helicopters are based at Porto Velho air base, in Rondônia, equipping the second squadron of the 8º Grupo de Aviação (2/8º GAV).
The Brazilian Air Force ordered a total of 12 Mi-35M helicopters to provide protection in the Amazon region, carrying out air policing, border security and counter-narcotics operations. The contract was signed on November 23, 2008. Air and ground crew began training in Russia in the spring of 2009. The first helicopter destined for Brazil made it maiden flight on August 22, 2009, at Rostvertol's facility in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. The first three AH-2 Sabres (8951, 8952, 8953) were delivered to Porto Velho by one An-124 of Volga-Dnepr on December 16, 2009. The remaining helicopters are scheduled to be delivered in July 2010, April 2011, and February 2012 in batches of three.
The AH-2 Sabre is the first purposely-designed combat helicopter to be operated by the Brazilian Air Force. The Sabre presents an important capability leap for helicopter aviation in Brazil in both firepower and mission capability. In addition to close air support, interdiction and escorting other helicopters, the Hind can also transport troops and carry out slow-mover intercepts.
Designed in the mid-to-late 1990s, the Mi-35M is a much improved version of the Mi-24 Hind, first delivered to Venezuela in 2006. Service-life and performance Improvements included the rotor system, up-rated Klimov VK-2500 turboshaft, shortened stub wings and non-retractable landing gear. It is equipped with a night-capable weapons system and thermal imaging sight, NVG-compatible cockpits with multi-functional displays and GPS-assisted navigation equipment. Armament consists of the twin-barrel GSh-23V 23mm cannon on a chin-mounted moving turret. It can be armed with a variety of unguided rockets, Ataka anti-tank missiles, and Igla-V air-to-air missiles for anti-air and self-defence. Other defensive improvements include the heat-suppressing exhaust boxes, countermeasures system and in terms of armour protection and robustness the Mi-35M presents a quantum leap in survivability compared to its predecessor in FAB service.
Previously the UH-50 Esquilo (Helibras HB.350B), a license-produced Eurocopter AS.350B Squirrel, was used as attack helicopter. The 2/8º GAV formalled retired the UH-50 on December 14, 2009, at its previous location Base Aérea Recife. The UH-50 completed 22 years of FAB service with around 55,000 flight hours.
- Press Release 20/04/2010, Novos helicópteros de ataque são apresentados em Porto Velho, Força Aérea Brasileira, www.fab.mil.br
- Delivery of First Brazilian Mi-35Ms, Air Forces Monthly, February 2010, p.19, Key Publishing, UK.