The Brazilian Air Force (FAB) reportedly decided to retire its 12 AH-2 Sabre attack helicopters, local name of the Mi-35 model, supplied by the Russian company Mil from 2010.
An internal document from the Air Force published on Thursday establishes that the aircraft will be withdrawn from operation as of March 1, in a gradual process expected to end on December 31.
Currently, the 12 Sabre helicopters, the only ones the FAB has designed as attack aircraft, are based in the Amazon, as part of the Poti squadron.
Lack of spare parts
Mi-35 helicopters are an updated version of the Mi-24, famous during the Cold War. In addition to having ground-attack weaponry that includes a 23 mm cannon, the AH-2 can carry rocket launchers, missiles and other weapons, in addition to transporting soldiers in its main cabin.
The Brazilian Air Force acquired the batch of 12 helicopters in 2008 for a aount of $386 million, but the first three Mi-35s only arrived in the country in 2010 while the last ones were delivered only in 2015.
Since then, there have been unconfirmed reports that the Mi-35 is a difficult-to-maintain aircraft, due to a lack of spare parts, which makes it low in availability.
It is not yet known what will be the fate of the helicopters, which have a relatively low number of hours flown.
Two years ago, Intelligence Online website stated that the Brazilian government had negotiated the sale of 12 Mi-35s to the Libyan National Army, in an agreement made through the United Arab Emirates.
At the time, the current Air Force Commander, Brigadier Baptista Junior, then responsible for logistics at the FAB, denied the rumors.