Decommissioned in March, the Mil Mi-35 helicopters of the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) have been stored at an air base since then. But one of the 12 aircraft recently flew to the Afonsos Air Base in Rio de Janeiro.
The Mi-35, designated AH-2 Sabre and registered FAB 8961, had one last mission, to become part of the collection of the Aerospace Museum, the largest in the South American country.
The Mi-35’s early retirement from the FAB is still shrouded in mystery. Although reports indicate that the aircraft suffered from a lack of spare parts, there are those who point to pressure from the US, which supplies another important helicopter to Brazil, the S-70 Black Hawk.
The assault and reconnaissance helicopters were purchased by Brazil in 2008 for $386 million. The aircraft were delivered between 2010 and 2015, so the newest ones have accumulated few flight hours.
Based on the Mi-24, an attack helicopter that became known in Afghanistan, the Mi-35M uses a turret with a cannon and rocket and missile launchers on pylons, in addition to being able to transport eight soldiers in a small cabin.
The Air Force placed them in the Poti squadron, based in the city of Porto Velho, in the Amazon. The AH-2 Sabre served in border surveillance operations, acting primarily against drug trafficking.
Fast (up to 300 km/h), the helicopters could be used to intercept small planes in irregular flight. With the retirement of the Brazilian Mi-35M, only the Venezuelan Army operates this type of aircraft in Latin America.