Numbering well over 12,000 production examples, the Mil Mi-8 (NATO reporting name of "Hip") can be viewed as one of the most successful helicopter designs of all time. It has seen use as a passenger transport, troop transport, vip transport, reconnaissance, electronic warfare, assault, artillery spotter and airborne command post throughout its tenure with the various nations that have purchased the aircraft. Even today, the Mi-8 remains in use as an operational-level instrument in many of the air forces and army groups that have seen value in the type. As of this writing, production continues despite some 42 years since the first Mi-8 rolled off of the assembly lines at the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant - then under the Soviet banner.
The Mi-8 was developed as a replacement for the Mi-4 "Hound", a piston-engined transport helicopter appearing in 1953 that could seat up to fourteen personnel. Utilizing some of the successful internal workings of the Mi-4, the new Mil design featured a single Soloviev turboshaft engine of 2,700 shaft horsepower mated to an all-new enlarged fuselage. The prototype took on the name of Mi-8 ("Hip-A") and achieved first flight on July 9th, 1961. Follow-up developmental testing soon revealed the design to lack in power and, as such, the single engine idea was dropped in favor of a twin-engined design featuring two Isotov TV2 turboshaft engines. A five-blade main rotor was also used in this revision which produced the second prototype, first flying on September 17th, 1962. Minor revisions followed and the Mi-8 was fully introduced in Soviet Air Force service sometime in 1967. The initial production versions all fell under the NATO designation of "Hip-C" and constituted the base militarized model and a civilian model (noted for its square windows instead of round). Since then, the Hip series has been expanded to include a plethora of upgraded and specially-designed versions.
Externally, the Mi-8 maintains a most utilitarian look about her. She sports a low-slung front crew area with extensive glazing that offers up excellent views from the cockpit. Immediately to the cockpit's rear is the spacious crew cabin with side-mounted sliding doors. On most versions, the tricycle undercarriage is static (one such Hip offered a retractable undercarriage) which adds to the types distinct look. Two engines are mounted above and to the rear of the crew cabin area and power a large five-blade main rotor system. The empennage is also a distinct feature of this rotorcraft as it sits high in the design and sports a single vertical tail fin, horizontal plane and a three-blade tail rotor mounted to the starboard side (the similar Mi-17 mounts the tail rotor to port). A modified Hip system features a rear-loading ramp. The crew consists of a pilot, co-pilot and a loadmaster.
Performance specifications of the common Mil Mi-8T "Hip-C" model are provided for by the twin Klimov-brand TV3-117Mt turboshaft engines generating up to 1,950 shaft horsepower each. Speeds top off at 260 kilometers per hour while a maximum range of 280 miles is possible. A ferry range of 596 miles is noted as is a service ceiling of 14,765 feet.
When armed, the Hip can sport a variety of mission-specific munitions. This includes the use of anti-tank missiles on outrigger pylons, rocket pods and even drop bombs. Self-defense can be handled by a side-mounted PK machine gun or equivalent. One particular Hip model mounted a 12.7mm machine gun in the nose for increased lethality. With the Hip being a multi-role type helicopter system capable of up to 3,300lbs of armament, it can mount virtually any approved ordnance package that the operator needs for a particular mission.
Operators of the Mi-8 cover the world over and appear in both militarized and civilian guises. Prominent military operators include Russia, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, India, Iran and Serbia. Notable operators also include the United States, which featured the type with their 6th Special Operations Squadron for training purposes. The American-based contracting group, Blackwater USA, used the type as well.
Anyway one looks at it, the expansive reach of this system has ensured an excellent legacy for the machine. Despite newer and more technologically advanced systems since the inception of the Mi-8, the Hip continues to serve in many frontline units across the globe. It is expected that the helicopter will continued to do so for many more years to come.
December 2014 - The newest incarnation of the Mi-8 is in flight-testing as the Mi-171A2. This product features an all-glass cockpit, new rotors, and digitally-controlled Klimov VK2500PS-03 turboshaft engines of 2,400 shaft horsepower each. Avionics are by Radio-Electronic Technologies (KBO-17 series). A follow-up (second) prototype is also in the works.
July 2017 - Debuted at MAKS 2017 was the Mi-8AMTSh-VA production variant for Arctic environment service.
August 2020 - An improved version of the Mi-8AMT(Sh)-VN helicopter, the Mi-171Sh "Strom", was displayed at Army2020. Russian special forces are the prime early candidate for this mark.
Afghanistan; Albania; Algeria; Angola; Anguilla; Armenia; Azerbaijan; Turkey; Belarus; Bangladesh; Bhutan; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Burkina Faso; Canada; Cambodia; China; Colombia; Croatia; Cuba; Czech Republic; Djibouti; East Germany; Ecuador; Egypt; Estonia; Ethiopia; Finland; Germany; Georgia; Ghana; Guinea-Bissau; Hungary; Israel; India; Indonesia; Iran; Iraq; Kazakhstan; Kenya; Kyrgyzstan; Laos; Latvia; Libya; Lithuania; Macedonia; Madagascar; Malaysia; Montenegro; Maldives; Mali; Mexico; Moldova; Mongolia; Mozambique; Myanmar; Nepal; New Zealand; Nicaragua; North Korea; North Vietnam; Pakistan; Peru; Poland; Romania; Russia; Senegal; Serbia; Sierra Leone; Sri Lanka; Slovakia; Somalia; South Africa; South Sudan; Soviet Union; Sudan; Syria; Tajikistan; Turkmenistan; Uganda; Ukraine; Uzbekistan; United States; Vietnam; Venezuela; Yemen; Yugoslavia; Zambia
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
✓Close-Air Support (CAS)
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
✓Special-Mission: Search & Rescue (SAR)
Ability to locate and extract personnel from areas of potential harm or peril (i.e. downed airmen in the sea).
General transport functionality to move supplies/cargo or personnel (including wounded and VIP) over range.
Used in roles serving the commercial aviation market, ferrying both passengers and goods over range.
Used in the Very-Important-Person (VIP) passenger transport role, typically with above-average amenities and luxuries as standard.
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
Serving Special Forces / Special Operations elements and missions.
59.6 ft (18.17 m)
69.8 ft (21.29 m)
18.2 ft (5.56 m)
16,006 lb (7,260 kg)
26,455 lb (12,000 kg)
+10,450 lb (+4,740 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Mil-Mi-8T (Hip-C) production variant)
monoplane / low-mounted / straight
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represent the most popular mainplane arrangement.
Mainplanes are low-mounted along the sides of the fuselage.
The planform involves use of basic, straight mainplane members.
(Structural descriptors pertain to the Mil-Mi-8T (Hip-C) production variant)
2 x Klimov TV3-117Mt turboshaft engines developing 1,950 shaft horsepower each and drivign a five-blade main rotor and three-blade tail rotor.
(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 6
Note: Diagram above does not take into account inline hardpoints (mounting positions seated one-behind-the-other).
V-8 ("Hip-A") - Single-Engine Prototype
V-8A - Twin-Engine Prototype; fitted with TV2-117 series turboshaft engines.
V-8AT - Mi-8T Utility Prototype
Mi-8 ("Hip-B") - Twin-Engine Prototype
Mi-8TG - Converted LPG gas-capable Mi-8
Mi-18 - Prototype based on Mi-8; lengthened fuselage; sliding starboard-side door added; retractable undercarriage.
Mi-8T ("Hip-C") - Initial quantitative production model; provision for 4 x UV-16-57 rocket pods; side-facing PK machine gun.
Mi-8TV - Armed version based on the Mi-8T model.
Mi-8TVK / Mi-8TB ("Hip-E") - Gunship Variant; provision for 6 x UV-32-57 rocket pods, 4 x AT-2 "Swatter" anti-tank missiles and 2 x 551lb drop bombs; KV-4 machine gun fitted to nose.
Mi-8TBK ("Hip-F") - Gunship Export Model; provision for 6 x Malyutka anti-tank missiles.
Mi-8IV ("Hip-G") - Utility transport; provision for 4 x UV-16-57 rocket pods; side-facing PK-machine gun.
Mi-9 - Export version of the Mi-8IV model.
Mi-8PPA ("Hip-K") - Export Electronic Warfare / Airborne Command Post; fitted with 6 antenna structures.
Mi-8PD - Polish Airborne Command Post
Mi-8PS / Mi-8TPS ("Hip-D") - Command Post / Communications Platform.
Mi-8SMV ("Hip-J") - Airborne Jamming Platform
Mi-8VPK / Mi-8VZPU ("Hip-D") - Airborne Communications Platform.
Mi-8AMT - Unarmed Transport
Mi-8AMT(Sh) - Based on the Mi-8MTV; fitted with electro-optic sight and radar system; armed or unarmed version.
Mi-8AMT(Sh)-VA - Arctic environment variant; debuted at MAKS 2017.
Mi-8AV - Minelayer.
Mi-8VT - Mine Clearer.
Mi-8MB - MEDEVAC variant.
Mi-8MTO - Night Attack Model.
Mi-8R - Reconnaissance Platform.
Mi-8K - Reconnaissance / Artillery Observation Platform.
Mi-8PT - Staff Transport; improved communications suite.
Mi-8SKA - Photo-Reconnaissance Platform
Mi-8T(K) - Photo-Reconnaissance Platform
Mi-8TZ - Fuel Transport
Mi-8T ("Hip-C") - Utility Transport; seating for 24; fitted with 2 x Klimov TV2-117A turboshaft engines of 1,677 shaft horsepower each.
Mi-8P - Civilian Transport; seating for up to 32; in-flight galley and restroom facilities.
Mi-8S "Salon" - Civilian VIP Transport; seating for up to 11; in-flight galley and toilet facilities.
Mi-8M - Russian Service Designation for similar Mi-17 "Hip".
Mi-8MPS - Search and Rescue (SAR) Variant
Mi-8MA - Cold Weather Exploration Variant
Mi-8MT - Aerial Crane Variant
Mi-8MTV - Improved "hot and high" model; fitted with TV3-117VM turboshaft engines.
Mi-8AT - Civilian Transport; fitted with revised and improved TV2-117AG series turboshaft engines.
Mi-8ATS - Agricultural Sprayer
Mi-8TL - Accident Investigation Model
Mi-8TM - Transport Model; fitted with weather radar.
Mi-8TS - Hot Weather Variant
Mi-8VIP - Luxury VIP Transport; seating for up to 9.
Mi-8PA - Heavy Material Transport; single production examples used by Japan.
Mi-171 - Ulan-Ude export equivalent of the Mi-8AMT.
Mi-171A - Civilian market passenger transport
Mi-171A1 - Civilian market cargo transport
Mi-171A2 - Digitally-controlled Klimov VK-2500PS-03 engines of 2,400shp; new rotor; glass cockpit.
Mi-171C - Local Chinese-built variant of the Mi-171; under Sichuan Lantian Helicopter Company Ltd brand label; outfitted with twin radar configuration; single ramp door at rear.
Mi-171E - Fitted with VK-2500-03 series engines for extreme weather service.
Mi-171LL - Flying testbed for Mi-171 series
Mi-171M - Modernized Mi-171; standard operating crew of two (from three).
Mi-171S - Mi-171 completed with Western-minded avionics suite.
Mi-171Sh - Export variant of the Mi-8AMTSh
Mi-172 - Kazan export equivalent of the Mi-8AMT.
Mi-8MTV-3 - Kazan export equivalent of the Mi-8AMT.
Mi-17 ("Hip") - Developed from the Mi-8; known as the Mi-8M in Russian service; tail rotor mounted to port-side; fitted with TV3-117MT engines, larger rotor and transmission.
Mi-17MD - Kazan-developed Mi-8 with rear ramp and dolphin-nose housing radar.
Mi-17KF - Kazan-developed Mi-8 with Western-type electronics suite.
Mi-171Sh "Strom" - Enhanced variant of the Mi-8AMT(Sh)-VN; displayed at Army2020 in Russia.
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