Negotiations between Serbia and Cyprus for the sale of Mil Mi-35PN attack helicopters are in the final stages. The Serbian Armed Forces are set to purchase a total of five aircraft from the Cyprus Air Forces. Serbia will have a total of nine Mi-35 helicopters after the delivery. It was reported earlier that Cyprus wishes to sell all 11 Mi-35P attack helicopters to Serbia. Cyprus intends to replace the Mi-35PN with 12 new attack helicopters. The proposal involves buying six aircraft initially and another six later, over a 10-year period. Once the sale is approved, Serbia expects to receive the first Mi-35 this year.
The Cyprus Air Forces (Cyprus Air Command) is the armed air wing of the Cypriot National Guard. This force is equipped with attack and anti-tank helicopters, surface-to-air missile systems and integrated radar systems. In July 2022, the Cypriot government announced that six Eurocopter EC145 helicopters would be procured from Airbus with an option for six more. These helicopters would cover the roles of reconnaissance and attack. They will be replacing the ageing Mil Mi-24 helicopters in service which are hard and costly to maintain. Turkish Cypriot authorities have called the helicopter purchase as a “provocation”.
The Mil Mi-24 (NATO reporting name: Hind) is a large helicopter gunship, attack helicopter and low-capacity troop transport with room for eight passengers. It is produced by Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant and has been operated since 1972 by the Soviet Air Force and its successors, along with 48 other nations. In NATO circles, the export versions, Mi-25 and Mi-35, are denoted with a letter suffix as “Hind D” and “Hind E”. Soviet pilots called the Mi-24 the “flying tank”, a term used historically with the famous World War II Soviet Il-2 Shturmovik armored ground attack aircraft.
Russian Helicopters holding has developed a common standard for Mi-24 modernization designated as Mi-35P. The Mi-35P has received the OPS-24N-1L observation-sight system with a third generation long-wave matrix thermal imager, TV camera, and laser rangefinder. The PKV-8-35 digital flight system increases the helicopter’s manoeuvrability and steadiness. The modernised gunship is also fitted with the updated PrVK-24-2 targeting system, which allows the use of 9M127-1 Ataka-VM anti-tank guided missiles and either L370 Vitebsk electronic countermeasure system or its export version President-S. The helicopter has also received a chin-mounted NPPU-23 turret with a twin-barrel GSh-23L autocannon.