Since its adoption into service with the Soviet Air Force during the early 1980s, the Cold War-era Mi-26 (NATO codename of "Halo") has been the largest and most powerful helicopter anywhere in the world. This heavy-lift series was developed to replace the aging Mil Mi-6 series. The Mi-26 was given an all-new, eight-bladed main rotor driven by a pair of Lotarev powerplants which helped the helicopter become a proven performer in both military and civilian roles - serving well in humanitarian relief efforts through its impactful supply-delivery capabilities.
The Mi-26 is powered by twin Lotarev D-136 series turboshafts developing approximately 11,400 shaft horsepower each and these are installed atop the cargo hold section of the fuselage abaft of the flight deck. Performance-wise, this massive machine can reach speeds up to 185 miles per hour and cruise at 160 miles per hour. Range is out to 1,200 miles with a service ceiling of 15,100 feet being possible. The 105-foot diameter eight-blade main rotor features advanced design and construction and is paired to a five-bladed tail rotor fitted along the vertical tail fin facing starboard. The helicopter's cockpit cabin is set well-forwards in the design, overlooking a short, rounded nose cone assembly and offering excellent vision out-of-the-cockpit. The cargo area is spacious and suitable for hauling up to 90 infantry with gear, 60 medical litters with staff or up 44,100 pounds of cargo. Her power is such that she can be used to carry heavy construction equipment to areas traditional rugged Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) aircraft cannot. Entry/exit is through sliding side doors as well as a powered loading ramp at rear which opens at the base of the tail section. The undercarriage is fixed and wheeled, consisting of a traditional tricycle arrangement. The standard operating crew for the Mi-26 is five made up of two pilots, a flight engineer/loadmaster, dedicated navigator, and a flight technician.
The Mi-26 has evolved from its original V-29 prototype to appear in a variety of dedicated and specialized forms. These include modernized models, MEDEVAC versions, a dedicated Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) platform, passenger/cargo types, and an airborne heavy-lift crane version. There has also been a dedicated fire-fighting platform.
Beyond the militarized versions of the Mi-26, there are also civilian market variants in service. Since its inception, it is reported that about 300 Mi-26 helicopters have been produced. First flight was on December 14th, 1977 with service introduction coming in 1983. Deliveries followed thereafter and full operational status was reached by 1986.
The Mi-26 was designed by engineers at the storied Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant in Moscow, Russia.
An Mi-26 Halo, with over 125 Russian personnel aboard, was downed by a Chechen surface-to-air missile system in August of 2002, killing all passengers and crew. More recently, Chinese Mi-26's have taken part in disaster relief operations in quake-effected regions of China.
September 2018 - The Mi-26T2V was unveiled as a modernized form at the 2018 Army Show (Moscow). The design showcased all-modern digital avionics, instrument panel, countermeasures suite and digitally-assisted flight controls. The prototype reportedly held its maiden flight on August 19th, 2018.
January 2020 - The latest Mi-26 entry, the modernized Mi-26T2V, is to undergo active testing with the Russian military throughout 2020.
August 2020 - The Peruvian Army will be auctioning off its three mothballed Mi-26 examples after decades of non-use.
Algeria; Belarus; Belgium; Cambodia; China; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Equatorial Guinea; India; Indonesia; Kazakhstan; Laos; Mexico; North Korea; Peru (retired); Poland; Russia; Soviet Union; Ukraine; Venezuela
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Special-Mission: Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
Equipped to search, track, and engage enemy underwater elements by way of specialized onboard equipment and weapons.
✓Special-Mission: MEDical EVACuation (MEDEVAC)
Extraction of wounded combat or civilian elements by way of specialized onboard equipment and available internal volume or external carrying capability.
✓Special-Mission: Search & Rescue (SAR)
Ability to locate and extract personnel from areas of potential harm or peril (i.e. downed airmen in the sea).
General transport functionality to move supplies/cargo or personnel (including wounded and VIP) over range.
Used in roles serving the commercial aviation market, ferrying both passengers and goods over range.
Used in the Very-Important-Person (VIP) passenger transport role, typically with above-average amenities and luxuries as standard.
Serving Special Forces / Special Operations elements and missions.
131.3 ft (40.02 m)
105.0 ft (32.00 m)
26.7 ft (8.14 m)
62,170 lb (28,200 kg)
123,459 lb (56,000 kg)
+61,289 lb (+27,800 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Mil Mi-26 (Halo) production variant)
2 x Lotarev D-136 turboshaft engines developing 11,400 horsepower each driving an eight-bladed main rotor and five-bladed tail rotor.
None. Hold reserved for up to 90 combat-ready troops, 60 medical litters with medical staff, or up to 44,100 pounds of cargo / supply pallets.
V-29 - Prototype Model
Mi-26 "Halo-A" - Militarized Cargo Transport Model.
Mi 26A - Upgraded Mi-26 Model
Mi-26M - Improved Performance Model based on the Mi-26.
Mi-26MS - MEDEVAC variant
Mi-26NEF-M - Dedicated Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Model.
Mi-26P - Passenger Transport Model; seating for up to 63 personnel.
Mi-26PP - Communications Model
Mi-26PK - Airborne Crane Platform
Mi-26S - Conversion Model developed to combt and assist nucelar disasters after the Chernobly incident.
Mi-26T - Civilian Cargo Transport Model
Mi-26TC - Basic Cargo Transport Model
Mi-26TM - Airborne Crane Platform
Mi-26TP - Dedicated Firefighting Platform
Mi-26TS - Export Model based on the Mi-26T model civilian cargo transport.
Mi-26TZ - Dedicated In-Flight Refueling Tanker
Mi-26T2V - Proposed modernized, all-digital variant of the Mi-26; first-flight held in August 2018.
Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
The overall rating takes into account over 60 individual factors related to this aircraft entry.
Rating is out of a possible 100 points.
Relative Maximum Speed
This entry's maximum listed speed (183mph).
Graph average of 150 miles-per-hour.
Mil Mi-26 (Halo) operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
Max Altitude Visualization
The 3 qualities we look at for a balanced aircraft design are altitude, speed, and range.
Aviation Era Span
Showcasing era cross-over of this aircraft design.
Unit Production (316)
This entry's total production compared against the most-produced military and civilian aircraft types in history (Ilyushin IL-2 and Cessna 172, respectively).
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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