21 December, 2015
As a strong believer in the potential for South Africa-Nigeria defence collaboration, I thought I should intervene (to clear the air on certain assumptions which appear to have gained currency among Nigerian watchers of defence & security developments).
The Super Hind attack helicopter is a Paramount asset, and all Hind helicopters upgraded to such standards have to go through Paramount HQ in South Africa. I can assure your readers that Paramount has not received any such order from Nigeria.
I suspect that the confusion arises from three historical reasons, laid out below and in chronological order:
1)ATE of South Africa initially upgraded 34 Algerian Mi-24 helicopters to Super Hind Mk. III in South Africa; the company experienced financial difficulties which resulted in an agreement with the Ukrainian firm, AVIAKON, for future upgrades;
2) Whilst ATE was under receivership, Azerbaijan decided to upgrade her Hind helicopters and this was done in Ukraine for 2 reasons:
a) ATE was under a financial cloud;
b) Ukraine had supplied the original ten Azeri Hind helicopters and supplies; the Azeris decided to save money by sticking with the already supplied Ukrainian Bar’yer ATGM in place of DENEL’s Ingwe or Spike-ER offered as standard on the Super Hind Mk.III; hence the Azeri Hinds are officially designated Mi-24G, with the G standing for ‘Gele’ or night in Azeri and the Super Hind name not used eventhough it’s effectively a Super Hind Mk.IV with a slightly less sophisticated cockpit and has standard intake filters; and
3) Algeria decided to upgrade the Argos 550 sensor turret with the newer, cheaper and smaller equivalents that have emerged over the past few years like the Argos II HDT (the 550’s successor) and the IPZ TITAN 410 SD; performed by AVIAKON in Ukraine.
In conclusion, since Paramount rescued ATE by buying it, the Super Hind has been upgraded to Mk.5, putting it at par with the South African-made Rooivalk and other similar modern attack helicopters in terms of avionics, weapons, sensors, combat radius etc.
Additionally, all work is now done in South Africa,in collaboration with Russia’s Yakovlev Design Bureau.
The only way to acquire Super Hind Mk.III and the unofficial Mk.IV is through second-hand variants either from Algeria or Azerbaijan. Even then, Paramount would have to be involved. With Algeria looking to have its entire attack helicopter capability upgraded to Super Hind Mk.5 and Mi-28, perhaps a deal is in the offing?
Concerning the purportedly impending sale of Super Hind attack helicopters to Nigeria by Ukraine, I sincerely hope Nigeria is not being taken for a ride, yet again.
Nothing stops your military procurement officials shipping your Hind helicopters to South Africa for the necessary upgrades to the Super Hind Mk.5 or forcing the Paramount Group to perform the work in Nigeria.
After all, they (Paramount Group) are already working on your Gazelle helicopters as the largest Gazelle contractor outside France.