The last Mi-24/35 to be overhauled by LOM Praha in Czech Republic flew from the facility on April 26. It marks the end of nearly 40 years of the Czech Air Force’s gunship helicopter being overhauled at the company’s Kbely factory.
The Mi-35 Hind-E, 3365 (c/n 203365) flew for over an hour during its check-flight. Delivered to the Czech Air Force in 2005, the Cold War gunship has just completed a second overhaul that would have allowed it fly for another eight years.
To mark the occasion, all the names of the last three LOM Praha aircrew to fly the aircraft were painted on the nose and a small inscription on the pilot’s right door simply said: ‘The last Mi-24/35 of the Czech Air Force to be overhauled by LOM Praha’. On the left side it was replicated in the Czech language.
LOM Praha’s Maintenance Director, Milan Hrdina previously told AirForces Monthly that the Mi-24s "could fly up to 40 years and the Mi-17Sh another 35 years with the necessary maintenance and clearance from Mil Helicopters in Moscow.”
Were this the case, that would mean the oldest Mi-17s, acquired in 1994/5, could last until 2030 and the Mi-24Vs could continue until 2045.
From now on LOM Praha will concentrate on Mi-17 maintenance repair and overhaul, but it is unclear how long this can continue due to sanctions on Russia, which will end the supply of spare parts. The Mi-24/35s are due to leave Czech Air Force service next year, and replaced by eight UH-1Y Venoms and four AH-1Z Vipers that were ordered in December 2019, in a government-to-government Foreign Military Sale with the US worth $622m.
The Czech Air Force Commander, Maj Gen Petr Mikulenka told AirForces Monthly last year that “spares for the Mi-24/35s are increasingly difficult to acquire so we had to look at new options.”
All the Mi-24/35 Hinds are based at Namest nad Oslavou (home of the 22nd Helicopter Airbase) in the east of the country where they serve No 221 Helicopter Squadron. Mi-35 will be delivered to its home base shortly.