One of the most productive helicopters ever made is the Mil Mi-8 Hip

The Mil Mi-8 (Western reporting name Hip) is one of the most prolific utility helicopters ever built with over 7 300 examples manufactured since 1961.

The combat proven Mi-8 is rugged and dependable, and large numbers remain in widespread use. The Mi-8 and improved Mi-17 variant continue to form the backbone of the Russian army aviation’s combat transport force; they also serve with over 70 other air arms worldwide.

The most widely built version for military customers is the Mi-8T Hip-C, the standard utility transport. The Mi-8TB Hip-E armed derivative packs a heavy punch with a trainable machine-gun, bombs, rockets and anti-tank guided missiles.

To improve performance, the Mi-8 was re-engined with 1 874 shp TV3-117MT engines to produce the Mi-17 (NATO designation Hip-H). This variant was introduced in 1975. Export customers often use the civil Mi-17 designation, but the CIS air forces use the Mi-8MT designation. Hip-H helicopters in CIS service are often fitted with extra cockpit armor, IR jammers and chaff/flare dispensers. The same basic helicopter without armament is the Mi-8AMT.

The baseline Mi-8 is operated by a crew of 3, including pilot, co-pilot and flight engineer. It can carry up to 24 fully-equipped troops.

The Mi-8/17 have given rise to a bewildering range of versions that fulfil a wide variety of specialized roles. Dedicated combat support variants include airborne reserve command post, electronic counter measures (with onboard jammers), Communications intelligence and command relay. Other versions carry out delivery of fuel to front-line units, photo-reconnaissance, artillery fire-correction, reconnaissance, VIP transport, minelaying and mineclearing. These specialized variants mostly serve with the Russian forces, but are also found with other CIS operators including Belarus and Ukraine.

Combat experience in Chechnya has led to a development with a night attack capability. This is equipped with an night vision goggles-compatible cockpit, forward-looking infra-red and laser rangefinder. Mil has also produced a shore-based Mi-8 derivative as the Mi-14 Haze for a variety of naval roles including anti-submarine ωλɾʄλɾɛ, search and rescue and mine countermeasures. The most significant current operator is the Russian naval aviation.

The Mil Helicopter Plant designed a new Mi-38, which is a proposed replacement for the ageing Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters. It made its maiden flight in 2003 and is currently in pre-production stage. The Mi-38 is marketed for both military and civil applications.

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