Joining the Mi-24V/Mi-35 Hind at RAF Fairford this year is the Czech Air Forces Mi-171Sh Hip to perform a Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) tactical pairs demonstration at the Air Tattoo. Unlike traditional Search and Rescue, CSAR is often conducted in combat zones to locate and recover pilots that have been shot down behind enemy lines in all weather conditions and at any time of day. As a result, whilst the Hind provides overhead protection, the CSAR team aboard the Hip aggressively extract the pilots whilst simultaneously providing emergency care for any injuries they may have sustained.
Based on the soviet-era workhorse Mi-8 Hip utility transport helicopter, the Mi-171Sh is the export version of the Mi-8AMTSh modernised armed assault helicopter first delivered to the Russian military during 2010, the Mi-171Sh was ordered by the Czech Air Force in 2005. This armed assault version retains the ability to carry 37 troops or 12 stretchers but includes modernised avionics such as GPS, uprated engines, armour for the cockpit and crucially the ability to carry the same weapons fit out as the Mi-24V/35 Hind including guided anti-tank missiles.
In 2019, the Czech Government signed a contract with the United States to begin replacing its fleet of Mi-8/17/171 Hip variants with the Bell UH-1Y Venom which is operated by the US Marine Corps, there is currently an initial batch of eight on order.
Photo Credit: Peter Reoch