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How does the Mil Mi-35M compare to the Boeing AH-64D Apache?

Both are attack helicopters. I have the following concerns with the Mi-35M:

  1. When compared to the largest U.S. attack helicopters (like the Apache), it looks quite heavy.
  2. It has a cargo compartment that seems to have no use. Looks like the Soviet design was retained to avoid massive redesign.
  3. It doesn't have a reinforced 'cheek' like the Apache does to protect it from bullets of larger caliber.
  4. It doesn't have a mast-mounted radar like the Longbow has. Looks like fire-control is manual.

How do they compare?

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  • $\begingroup$ Nothing is 100% perfect, what do you mean by "flaw"? Anything can be improved upon, otherwise nobody would ever make a new one. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Aug 28 '17 at 17:07
  • $\begingroup$ Your edit doesn't really help, what do you mean by "lightweight"? Changing the weight of the aircraft changes its mission (what it can carry). Compared to a much larger helicopter it already is lightweight. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Aug 28 '17 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ Aviation is a matter of compromise. Surely you can improve some characteristics but you may have to worsen others in the process. Given a mission, aviation engineers decide what compromise they should do. You may precise what arr the characteristics you want to improve $\endgroup$ – Manu H Aug 28 '17 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ A better comparison may be the smaller Mi-28 Havoc (which coincidently - or by strategy - also has a small cargo compartment) $\endgroup$ – Bageletas Aug 28 '17 at 22:52
  • $\begingroup$ The “cheek" could be there to hold the ammo for the 30mm gun. Maybe you should check in its purpose again. $\endgroup$ – user7241 Dec 9 '17 at 12:47
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TL;DR It's really mission related.

1) not the same role

2) Cargo compartment is important (see below)

3) Soviet doctrine had helicopters fighting with troops so I'm guessing a soldier on the ground is more worried about the dude with the AK-47 and bayonet charging them so they don't have time to take pot shots at choppers

4) Mast mounted radar came later. The original Apache didn't have it and even the new Super Cobra doesn't have it


I'll expand on my comment about the Mi-28 Havoc below but to stab at the Mi-35 you have to look at the Soviet air doctrine when these aircraft were designed.

This student research paper aptly named The Soviet Attack Helicopter describes the role helicopters were seen taking in the Soviet Union

In April of 1976, Belov reflected an evolutionary change in Soviet attitude toward attack helicopters stating that fire-support helicopters may be regarded as a highly effective weapon for land forces. He felt that these helicopters could be used not only to support subunits on the battlefield but also to destroy various targets independently, to accompany airmobile troops and landing forces both inflight and after landing, to fight tanks and other armored targets and also to destroy enemy aircraft and air-mobile troops both in the air and on the ground.

Contrast this to US forces where there are very defined roles for helicopters. Attack helicopters at the time (Apaches and Cobras) and transport units (Huey and Chinook) had very defined roles. Transport choppers provided some cover fire and limited rocket capability. Attack helicopters provided close air support and sneak attacks on various mechanized and fixed targets.

the soviets though saw helicopters as one in the same. As one author put it in the soviet tactical air doctrine paper from 1976

The one constant in all Soviet use of tactical air power is that air power is only one component that must be used in concert with other military forces in order to be effective.

So their helicopters were not tools that happen to occasionally transport or support ground troops they saw them as integral components in a land/air strategy.

this brings me to the Mi-28 Havoc. Note that on the wikipedia page it looks similar to an Apache. Swiveling gun turret, guided/unguided rockets, etc... But also note it has a small compartment that can fit 3 people.

Imagine an aircraft goes down: pilot, co-pilot, navigator (or some combo like that). In the US an attack helicopter would provide cover fire if needed. a transport helicopter would come in to retrieve the crewman.

BUT in the Soviet strategy even the smaller Havoc could land quickly and evacuate the wounded! It's a stark contrast in CONOPS.

The Mi-35 is really a big version of this strategy. Bring in lots of troops and stick around with rockets and guns to provide heavy gun fire. Unlike the precise shots that the Apache/Havoc can take; the Mi-35 and even the armed versions of Huey's/Black Hawks provide a 'pray and spray' mentality. A lot of fire on a lot of entrenched troops/light armor in a treeline or foxholes.

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  • $\begingroup$ Good answer, they are just very different machines. Wikipedia also claims that Mi-24 crews in the Afghan theatre sometimes carried extra ammo or fuel in lieu of troops, but I haven't been able to find any additional sources, so I'm hesitant to suggest it as an addition. $\endgroup$ – AEhere supports Monica Aug 29 '17 at 10:52
  • $\begingroup$ Wasn't the AK-47 replaced by the AKM and then by the AK-74 before the MI-35M came into service in the Soviet Union? $\endgroup$ – RedGrittyBrick Aug 29 '17 at 13:27
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    $\begingroup$ @RedGrittyBrick the reference to the AK-47 is based off my ignorance. A quick look shows the AKM introduced in 1959 (well before even the Mi-24 first flight) and replaced by the 74 in... 1974! I hadn't realized the model # was the yr introduced. $\endgroup$ – Bageletas Aug 29 '17 at 14:24

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