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The Mi-171Sh is the export version of the Mi-8AMTSh which itself is a heavily modernised variant of the soviet-era workhorse Mi-8 Hip utility transport helicopter. The Mi-8 first flew in 1960 and is still in production with over 17,000 examples produced - earning the Hip the accolade as the world's most numerous helicopter. The most recent versions of the Mi-8 are also known as the Mi-171 featuring more powerful engines and a better cargo capacity in addition to modernised avionics. One of the most recent versions is designated the Mi-8AMTSh which has been developed to be used as an assault helicopter which can be armed with a variety of weapons and modern satellite based navigation systems.
The Czech Air Force ordered the Mi-171Sh in 2005 and is used as a troop transport and combat search and rescue (CSAR) role. When flying CSAR missions the Mi-171Sh is usually paired with an Mi-24V Hind attack helicopter that provides air cover whilst the highly trained CSAR team extract the downed pilot from behind enemy lines. In addition to being able to carry 37 troops or 12 stretchers, the Mi-171Sh can carry the same weapons fit out as the Hind including guided anti-tank missiles. In 2019, the Czech Government signed a contract with the United States to begin replacing the Mi-171 with the UH-1Y Venom.
The Czech Air Force are providing a single Mi-171Sh for static display at this year's Air Tattoo and it is hoped that the example sent is the airframe currently a paint scheme which commemorates the 60th anniversary of the first flight of the Mi-8 and 55 years of the Mi-8 and its variants being in Czech Air Force Service. The aircraft is painted in the camouflage schemes the Mi-8 has worn in Czech service.
Photo Credit: Czech MOD