The MI-8 was the workhorse of the Soviet armed forces. Cheap, rugged and reliable, this utility and assault helicopter was sold to many third world client states throughout the Cold War and is still in active service in various trouble spots around the world.
Many variants of the MI-8 were developed, including the Mi-8MT which is also known as the MI-17 Hip H. When used in the assault role (ferrying airborne troops to the battlefield), MI-8s tout 57mm rocket pods on 2x4 fuselage-mounted pylons. Door guns may also be mounted.
The Mi-8TVK Hip E is the dedicated gunship variant. It can carry an array of weapons on its 6 pylons including 57mm rockets, AT-2 wire-guided anti-tank missiles, bombs (including chemical munitions) and machine gun pods. A steerable 12.7mm cannon is fitted under the MI-8's nose.
MI-8 Hips have seen combat in Afghanistan and, more recently, in Chechnya. The Hip E's impressive weapon loadout makes it a fearsome adversary for ground troops, although its lack of heavy armor does leave it more vulnerable to small arms fire than Russia's other troop carrying gunship, the MI-24 Hind.