U.S. Air Force Uses Russian Mi-24 Hind Gunships in Training at Davis-Monthan AFB.

A Russian MI-24 Hind gunship flies over Ryan Airfield, Arizona, Nov. 20, 2019. The MI-24 joined the 55th Rescue Squadron to work on basic helicopter maneuvering and combat readiness in the fourth iteration of the 55th RQS phase training program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)

First Time Actual Adversary Training Aircraft Disclosed in Use at Tucson Base.

Russian-built Mi-24 ‘Hind’ attack helicopters are no strangers to U.S. airshow venues like Nellis AFB for previous editions of Aviation Nation, but official mention of the aircraft being used in active training with the USAF is much less common.

Last week, the Air Force’s 355th Wing Public Affairs unit officially released a story about the USAF 55th Rescue Squadron of the Air Combat Command training with two Russian Mi-24 attack helicopters at Davis-Monthan AFB outside Tucson, Arizona.

“This is the first time this training has been done outside the weapons school at Nellis AFB,” USAF Capt. Kurt Wallin, 55th Rescue Squadron flight commander, said in an official Air Force press release from Davis-Monthan AFB Public Affairs. “This is a big step we’ve taken to increase our training capabilities since it is the first time we have trained outside of HH-60G Pave Hawk versus HH-60G. This training lets us see the capabilities of other aircraft against our own tactics and procedures”

Capt. Wallin was referring to dissimilar aerial training that pits the USAF’s HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter against the Russian manufactured Mi-24 ‘Hind’. The Mi-24 ‘Hind’ attack helicopter is in service with approximately 48 nations, some of them potential adversaries of U.S. forces deployed around the world.

USAF Staff Sgt. Stefen Adams, a 55th Rescue Squadron special mission aviator, told Davis-Monthan AFB Public Affairs that, “Our mission statement, ‘these things we do, so that others may live’, shows that we have to be capable to deploy anywhere in the world against any threat. This is why this will be beneficial for us because this ios the foundation as we continue to build on our training and broaden our efforts to what may come instead of what we have focused on the last few years.”

A U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk sits next to a Russian MI-24 Hind gunship in the 55th Rescue Squadron hangar at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Nov. 18, 2019. The 55th RQS trained with the MI-24s to prepare for helicopter to helicopter combat. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob T. Stephens)

The Russian-built Mi-24 ‘Hind” attack helicopters being used in threat simulation at Davis-Monthan likely belong to, “Tacoma, Washington-based VTS Aviation LLC (VTSA), and System Studies & Simulation (S3) Inc. out of Huntsville, Alabama,” according to a March 15, 2018 article in Vertical Magazine by journalist Elan Head. According to Head’s report for Vertical Magazine, the two Mi-24s being used in the training exercises at Davis-Monthan started their journey to U.S. potential threat simulation from Bulgaria. The two Mi-24D ‘Hind’ attack helicopters were once on display at the Cold War Air Museum before the venue closed in 2017. They then began to appear in threat simulations under contract for the U.S. military. The aircraft have also served as realistic threat simulation aircraft for the U.S. Marines.

The Mi-24 ‘Hind’ attack helicopter achieved notoriety during the Soviet-era war with Afghanistan, when Taliban guerillas, including Osama bin Laden, were supported by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Through several covert cover organizations, the U.S. provided Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) such as the FIM-92 Stinger missile system to Taliban insurgents in November 1987 through January 1988. During this era, the threat posed by the durable and heavily-armed Mi-24 ‘Hind’ was recognized by U.S. intelligence agencies. Since then, the ‘Hind” has been respected as a highly capable weapons system.

Author Tom Demerly of TheAviationist.com with one of the two Mi-24 ‘Hind’ helicopters at Nellis AFB in Nevada. (Photo: Janmack Demerly for TheAviationist.com)

About Tom Demerly
Tom Demerly is a feature writer, journalist, photographer and editorialist who has written articles that are published around the world on TheAviationist.com, TACAIRNET.com, Outside magazine, Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, The Dearborn Press & Guide, National Interest, Russia’s government media outlet Sputnik, and many other publications. Demerly studied journalism at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. Tom Demerly served in an intelligence gathering unit as a member of the U.S. Army and Michigan National Guard. His military experience includes being Honor Graduate from the U.S. Army Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia (Cycle C-6-1) and as a Scout Observer in a reconnaissance unit, Company “F”, 425th INF (RANGER/AIRBORNE), Long Range Surveillance Unit (LRSU). Demerly is an experienced parachutist, holds advanced SCUBA certifications, has climbed the highest mountains on three continents and visited all seven continents and has flown several types of light aircraft.