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Polish Mi-2 Helicopters: 5 Decades of Service and no Successor in Sight

Image Credit: Major Marcin Sieradzki
Image Credit: Major Marcin Sieradzki

According to the information provided to us by the Polish Ministry of Defence the Mi-2 helicopters, that have been operated for 5 decades now, are expected to serve in the Polish military aviation for 60 years at least. Perkoz programme, within the framework of which a Mi-2 replacement was expected to be selected, has not been included in the 2017-2026 technical modernization plan.

As the press division of the Polish MoD told us considering the prioritized implementation of the Kruk programme, Perkoz programme has not been included in the contents of the 2017-2026 technical modernization plan. The above means that procurement process related to acquisition of light multi-role helicopters would not begin before 2027. Mi-2 is going to celebrate its 60th anniversary of service that year, as the first Hoplites have been introduced into the inventory of the Polish military in 1967.

Mi-2 helicopters had their 50th anniversary event organized in 2017, at the 56th Airbase in Inowrocław. On that occasion one of the helicopters received a special livery, in case of which half of the helicopter wears a three-tone camouflage reminiscent of the livery utilized until the end of the 20th Century, while the other half is homogeneously green, as the currently operated helicopters are. The halves are separated by a depiction of a Greek Hoplite which refers to the Mi-2’s NATO Codename.

During the peak period the Polish military was operating more than 300 Mi-2 helicopters for a wide range of purposes, including reconnaissance or anti-tank tasks (in the latter case the helicopter was armed with ATGMs). It may be thus said that Mi-2 has been the most versatile and the most common rotorcraft of the Polish military.

Image Credit: Major Marcin Sieradzki

Two years ago 60 examples of this helicopter were being operated, however, the numbers are going down, as the lifetime of the helicopters is also being used up. The lifecycles are being systematically extended for the aircraft qualified for further operation. At the moment the Polish military is still operating around 40 Mi-2 platforms. It was in March 2018 when the Aviation Technology Division of the 3rd Regional Logistics Base concluded an agreement with the PZL-Świdnik facility, concerning the lifecycle extension for the Mi-2s operated by the Polish military within the period between 2018 and 2021.

At the same time the Polish Ministry of Defence announced urgent launch of the “Perkoz” light multirole helicopter procurement procedure, which happened in 2018. This has been done as the fleet in question was becoming less and less usable. The year 2018 has been a time when major, costly contracts were being signed, same applies to the beginning of 2019. As a result of the above, Perkoz programme is no longer a priority.

On one hand, this decision is a proof of realistic planning. Major inventory of spares and simple design of the Mi-2 helicopter make it easier to operate this aircraft over extended time periods. On the other hand though, no upgrades have been introduced over the last 5 decades of service for the Mi-2 platforms, which means that they do not really comply with the current requirements.

There is no direct replacement of the Mi-2 helicopter available now. Some of the tasks of those aircraft have been taken over by the W-3 platforms (manufactured by PZL-Świdnik as well), that are the most commonly operated type in the Polish military. However, the W-3 family is also operated in numerous domains. A programme has been launched aimed at tailoring the W-3 Sokół to carry ATGMs. This will further increase the workloads, also due to the fact that some of the helicopters will be tailored for a new role.

Considering the circumstances, Mi-2 stands a chance of being operated, in a continuous manner, for 6 decades, and it is difficult tell what helicopter could replace the Hoplites. This is a record of some sort. However, it is difficult to be happy about it, as the Mi-2 is not the sole equipment type operated by the Polish military for 5 decades now.