The Indian Air Force (IAF) has withdrawn its MI-8 ‘Pratap’ multi-role helicopters from service, during the phasing out ceremony held at the Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bengaluru.
The helicopter flew for the last time on 17 December after 45 years of service.
The airforce inducted 107 MI-8 helicopters in ten operational helicopter units between 1971 and 1988.
The helicopters served in several major IAF operations, including Operation Meghdoot in the Siachen Glacier and Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka.
They were deployed to humanitarian and disaster relief operations across the country, as well as to transport VIPs.
Commenting on the helicopter, the Indian Ministry of Defence stated: “MI-8 through its glorious service career, did not just establish itself as a mainstay of the helicopter operations but also left an indelible mark on the future by providing the Indian Air Force with a lineage of professional helicopter aircrew.”
The MI-8 has been the backbone of medium-lift combat capability of the IAF and was the ideal platform for medium-lift helicopter (MLH) aircrew graduation, according to the statement.
The last unit to operate the helicopter was the 112 Helicopter Unit based at the Yelahanka Air Force Station.
The MI-8 helicopters with advanced flight capabilities can operate in a wide range of climatic conditions ranging from -50°C to 50°C.
Designed by Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant, the MI-8 helicopters are built at Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant and Kazan Helicopters.
The helicopters can be fitted with a wide range of additional equipment to tackle a variety of missions, Russian Helicopters stated.
More than 12,000 MI-8 helicopters have been produced to date.