BAE Systems is offering an upgrade package for the Mil Mi-24 Hind battlefield helicopter. The company is aiming the update primarily at new NATO members in Central Europe and Latin America.

Estimates vary on the number of helicopters available for upgrade. BAE believes 2,800 Mi-24/35s were sold outside of the CIS, of which 600 remain operational and upgrade worthy. The potential market has already attracted rivals, chief among them is Russia's Mil and Russian Avionics, Israel Aircraft Industries and Thales Avionics. All have already begun flight tests on prototype aircraft. BAE says it could fly a prototype eight months after a customer is found.

BAE's main effort is to make the Hind compliant to NATO standards in communications, navigation and weapons systems, and also to enhance pilots' situational awareness, introduce night/adverse weather operational capability and improve survivability by adding modern jamming, warning, chaff and flare dispenser systems.

The modular upgrade package offered is based on use of in-service systems and uses the Mil 1553 multiplex bus architecture to allow for later growth.

Major items in the package include night goggles, with an option to replace with the Striker helmet-mounted display selected for the US Marine Corps AH-1Z; a multi-sensor turret system with gyro-stabilised third-generation forward looking infra-red CCD camera; and a laser range finder/ designator and navigational improvements such as GPS.

The upgraded Hind can be adapted to carry 70mm (2.75in) rockets and guided anti-tank missiles such as Euromissile's HOT. The original 12.7mm four-barrel machine gun in the nose turret can be replaced with an Italian 20mm three-barrel cannon. BAE is alone in proposing to unify the Mi-24's cockpits, and thus reduce upgrade costs. Each pilot will have a LCD and a data-input device.

The new Polish Government is to select a Hind upgrade provider this month, though the decision may be delayed following the recent general election. BAE is jointly bidding with WZL1 in Poland.

The UK supplier is also proposing upgrade solutions for Mi-8/17 Hip transports, although the Mi-24 has a higher priority.

Source: Flight International