The Russian Air Force has deployed 16 brand new Mil Mi-8AMTSh ‘Hip’ gunships to Exercise Vostok 2014. They flew them Iturup, on the largest island of the South Kuril Islands, over sea to Yelizovo base, in Kamchatka – Russia’s Far East. In doing so, a record was set for the longest ever sea crossing by the Russian Army Aviation.
According to one Russian officer, “the helicopters spent more than six hours in the air, flying more than 800 miles (1,300kms) over the sea.”
In an unprecedented ferry flight, the helicopters were installed with several additional fuel tanks to ensure they made the impressive non-stop flight.
“These helicopter gunships based in the Eastern Military District have made a crossing especially for Exercise Vostok-2014,” Colonel Sergei Dyagilev a senior inspector-pilot with the Russian AF’s 3rd Command, Air Force and Air Defence Forces said. He noted that pilots from the Eastern Military District would ‘test’ these helicopters and if successful the Mi-8AMTSh could be equipped with additional fuel tanks for future operations.