Russian Helicopters Unveils New Mi-171Sh-VN ‘Hip’ Troop Carrier

 - August 27, 2020, 6:40 AM
The first Mi-171Sh-VN is shown during trials, with additional test instrumentation equipment fitted on a frame forward of the windscreen. (Photo: Russian Helicopters)

Russian Helicopters has displayed the first test model of a new version of the trusty Mi-8/17 “Hip” transport aircraft. Designated Mi-171Sh-VN, and known as Storm in its export version, the heavily armed helicopter features guided weapons and titanium/Kevlar armor to protect both the flight deck crew and troops in the cabin. Upgraded engines and a new rotor system are installed, the latter employing composite blades. It also has an “X”-shaped tailrotor, as fitted to the later Mi-35 versions and Mi-28.

Built at Russian Helicopters’ Ulan Ude factory, the Mi-171Sh-VN is fitted with an IBKV-17VP “glass” cockpit, and an OPS-24N-1L sighting systems for use with guided weapons. It has the latest President-S defensive aids suite, and a 0.5-inch machine gun. The helicopter, which is being unveiled at this week's Army 2020 International Military-Technical Forum, is reportedly aimed at a Russian special forces requirement.

The Mi-171Sh-VN is appearing as part of a major display by Russian Helicopters across the two Army 2020 sites. It is on show at the main Patriotic Park exhibition site, along with examples of the Mi-35M, Mi-35P, and Ka-226T. Further military helicopters are at Kubinka airfield, including Mi-28NE Night Hunter, Ka-52K Alligator, Mi-17V-5, and Mi-26T2V.

Russian Helicopters also displayed a new fully composite rotor blade design that is intended for installation on the Mi-28 and Mi-35 helicopters. Using one-stage compression molding technology, the blades significantly increase the speeds of both helicopter types. Testing on a converted Mi-24 flying laboratory displayed speeds of more than 400 km/h (216 knots). The blades are currently undergoing factory testing on a Mi-28.

Russian Helicopters advanced rotor blade
Advanced composite blades have been developed by Russian Helicopters to increase the speeds of the Mi-28 and Mi-35 attack helicopters. (Photo: Russian Helicopters)

During the show, the company signed a contract with the Russian defense ministry to develop a multirole shipborne helicopter capable of performing troop transport, search and rescue, and anti-submarine warfare tasks. Development is being undertaken by a joint Mil/Kamov team, and the initial stage is planned for completion in three years.

In other announcements during the week, Russian Helicopters confirmed that it had launched serial production of the Mi-35P attack helicopter at the Rostvertol plant in Rostov-on-Don. Following demonstrations to a number of potential customers, the Mi-35P has received its first contract from an undisclosed export customer. The helicopter is outfitted with an upgraded sighting system with long-wave matrix thermal imaging and high-resolution color TV camera.

The company has also signed a contract with Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations to deliver an initial Mi-26T2 heavylift helicopter. This version of the well-known “Halo” has modernized avionics that permit it to be operated by a crew of three, instead of five in the earlier generations.