The Czech Air Force’s (CzAF) Mil Mi-24V Hind-E gunship fleet has carried out its final live-fire exercise at the Boletice Military Training Area in the nation’s Český Krumlov district, during which two examples of the attack helicopter fired 640 machine gun and 800 cannon rounds, along with 239 S-8 rockets.
The CzAF announced the conclusion of this final live-fire exercise – which involved two Mi-24Vs from the 221st Helicopter Squadron at Náměšt and Oslavou Air Base – on June 6, adding that the main focus of this event was to engage simulated targets in cooperation with a unit of Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs). This final live-fire exercise involved two special schemed Hind-Es: 3366 ‘Alien Tiger’, a scheme it has worn since NATO Tiger Meet 2016, and 3369, which received a unique tiger-themed livery to celebrate 80 years of the 311th Czechoslovak Bomber Squadron in 2021. The former was equipped with two GŠ-23 twin-barrelled 23mm rotary cannons, while the latter was fitted with S-8 rocket pods and four-barrelled 12.7mm machine gun pods.
In total, both helicopters fired 640 machine gun and 800 cannon rounds, in addition to 239 S-8 rockets in what was the Soviet-era gunship’s final live-fire exercise at Boletice before it is replaced by ten US-built Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters and ten UH-1Y Venom battlefield utility helicopters later this year. For the exercise, a Forward Arming and Refuelling Point (FARP) was constructed at Boletice, from which the Mi-24Vs used as a staging area for the various missions flown during the event. In addition to the helicopters, a mortar platoon from the 7th Mechanized Brigade participated in the exercise to suppress the simulated enemy, while JTACs coordinated attacks from the ground and the air using a Puma UAV.
The last live-fire training mission flown by the CzAF Hind-E fleet was a night flight flown by Capt Jaroslav Šimek, 1st Lt Jaroslav Palička and Warrant Officer Pavel Solař, during which the helicopter flew two sorties and fired a barrage of unguided S-8 rockets and a forward-facing 12.7mm machine gun from the gunship. The venerable Hind first entered service with the Czechoslovak Air Force in August 1978 (45 years ago), with the CzAF being one of the decreasing number of operators of the Soviet-era gunship in Europe. The Czech Republic is in the process of phasing out its Hind-E fleet, some examples of which have already been donated to Ukraine as the nation continues to defend itself against invading Russian forces. It is likely that the remaining Hinds will also be donated to Ukraine after being withdrawn from operational use.