Mil Mi-26
The Mil Mi-26 ' onMouseout='HidePop("25774")' href="/topics/NATO_reporting_name">NATO reporting name
NATO reporting name
NATO reporting names are classified code names for military equipment of the Eastern Bloc...

: Halo) is a Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n heavy transport helicopter
Military transport aircraft
Military transport aircraft are typically fixed and rotary wing cargo aircraft which are used to deliver troops, weapons and other military equipment by a variety of methods to any area of military operations around the surface of the planet, usually outside of the commercial flight routes in...

. In service with civilian and military operators, it is the largest and most powerful helicopter ever to have gone into production.

Design and development

Following the incomplete development of the Mil V-12 in the early 1970s, work began on a new heavy-lift helicopter, designated "Project 90" and later allocated designation Mi-26. The new design was required to have an empty weight less than half its maximum takeoff weight. The helicopter was designed by Marat Tishchenko, protégé of Mikhail Mil
Mikhail Mil
Mikhail Leontyevich Mil ; 22 November 1909 - 31 January 1970 was a Soviet aerospace engineer. He was founder of the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant, which is responsible for many well-known Soviet helicopter models.-Biography:...

, founder of the experimental OKB Mil design bureau
OKB is a transliteration of the Russian acronym for "Опытное конструкторское бюро" - Opytnoe Konstructorskoe Byuro, meaning Experimental Design Bureau...


The Mi-26 was designed as a heavy-lift helicopter for military and civil use, and was to replace earlier Mi-6
Mil Mi-6
|-Facts:*Test pilot N.B. Leshin has set the world record of speed. This event was awarded by the American Helicopter Society.*Small numbers are still in service, most in Siberia plus a small number with the People's Republic of China...

 and Mi-12 heavy lift helicopters, with twice the cabin space and payload of the Mi-6, then the world's largest and fastest production helicopter. The primary purpose was to move military equipment like 13 metric ton (29,000 lb) amphibious armored personnel carriers, and mobile ballistic missiles, to remote locations after delivery by military transport planes such as the Antonov An-22
Antonov An-22
The Antonov An-22 Antei was the world's heaviest aircraft, until the advent of the American C-5 Galaxy and later the Soviet An-124. Powered by four pairs of contra-rotating turboprops, the design remains the world's largest turboprop-powered aircraft...

 or Ilyushin Il-76
Ilyushin Il-76
The Ilyushin Il-76 is a multi-purpose four-engined strategic airlifter designed by Ilyushin design bureau. It was first planned as a commercial freighter in 1967. Intended as a replacement for the Antonov An-12, the Il-76 was designed for delivering heavy machinery to remote, poorly-serviced areas...


The first Mi-26 flew on 14 December 1977. The first production aircraft (serial 01-01) was rolled out on 04 October 1980. One production aircraft was destroyed during pre-delivery single-engine emergency landing procedure testing, but there were no casualties. Development was completed in 1983, and the Mi-26 was in Soviet military and commercial service by 1985.
The Mi-26 was the first factory-equipped helicopter with an eight-blade rotor
Helicopter rotor
A helicopter main rotor or rotor system is a type of fan that is used to generate both the aerodynamic lift force that supports the weight of the helicopter, and thrust which counteracts aerodynamic drag in forward flight...

. It is capable of flight in the event of power loss by one engine (depending on aircraft mission weight) thanks to an engine load sharing system. While it is only slightly heavier than the Mi-6, the Mi-26 can lift up to 20 metric tons (44,092.5 lb) - 8 tons more. It is the second largest and heaviest helicopter ever constructed, after the experimental V-12.

The Mi-26's unique main gearbox is relatively light but can absorb 19,725 shp, which was accomplished using a non-planetary, split-torque design. Because Mil's normal gearbox supplier said that such a gearbox couldn't be designed, the Mil Design Bureau designed the VR-26 transmission itself.

In July 2010, a Russian-Chinese development of a successor type was announced.

Operational history

Chernobyl accident

The Mi-26S was a disaster response version hastily developed after the Chernobyl nuclear accident. and was used for radiation measurements and precision drops of insulating material to cover the damaged No. 4 reactor. It was also equipped with a deactivating liquid tank and underbelly spraying apparatus. The Mi-26S was operated in immediate proximity to the nuclear reactor, with a filter system and protective screens mounted in the cabin to protect the crew during delivery of construction materials to the most highly contaminated areas.

World Team skydiving

For three weeks in September 1996, the Russian military loaned four fully crewed Mi-26 helicopters and granted the use of its Anapa airbase to the World Team for its skydiving freefall formation
Formation skydiving
Formation skydiving is the art of building formations in free-fall with multiple people gripping each others' limbs or specially built "grippers" on their jumpsuits....

 world record attempt. The World Team was made up of top-tier skydivers from over 40 countries and led by Hollywood aerial stunt performer
Stunt performer
A stuntman, or daredevil is someone who performs dangerous stunts, often as a career.These stunts are sometimes rigged so that they look dangerous while still having safety mechanisms, but often they are as dangerous as they appear to be...

 B. J. Worth. With the goal of setting a new 300-Way freefall formation record and using the high altitude and high capacity performance of the Mi-26, the World Team quickly flew 300 participants, plus aerial judges, photographers, and cinematographers up to 6700 metres (21,981.6 ft), then simultaneously dropped them in a tight formation. The Mi-26 helicopter crews and equipment performed flawlessly in their first experience with close formation flying, and flew away with an assist in the new 297-Way world record set on September 27, 1996, just three shy of the objective.

Siberian Woolly Mammoth recovery

In October 1999, a Mi-26 was used to transport a 25-ton block of ice encasing a well-preserved, 23,000 year-old Woolly Mammoth
Woolly mammoth
The woolly mammoth , also called the tundra mammoth, is a species of mammoth. This animal is known from bones and frozen carcasses from northern North America and northern Eurasia with the best preserved carcasses in Siberia...

 from the Siberian tundra to a lab in Khatanga, Taymyr
Taymyr Autonomous Okrug
Taymyr Dolgano-Nenets Autonomous Okrug , or Taymyria, was a federal subject of Russia , the northernmost in mainland Russia . It is named after the Taymyr Peninsula...

, where scientists hoped to study the find and perhaps attempt to clone
Cloning in biology is the process of producing similar populations of genetically identical individuals that occurs in nature when organisms such as bacteria, insects or plants reproduce asexually. Cloning in biotechnology refers to processes used to create copies of DNA fragments , cells , or...

 it. The weight was reportedly so great that the Mi-26 had to be returned to the factory immediately thereafter to check for airframe and rotor warping caused by potential structural excesses.

Afghanistan Chinook recovery

In Spring 2002, a civilian Mi-26 was leased to recover two U.S. Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 MH-47E Chinook helicopters from a mountain in Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

. The Chinooks, operated by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, had been employed in Operation Anaconda
Operation Anaconda
Operation Anaconda took place in early March 2002 in which the United States military and CIA Paramilitary Officers, working with allied Afghan military forces, and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization and non NATO forces attempted to destroy al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in the Shahi-Kot...

, an effort to drive al Qaeda and Taliban fighters out of the Shahi-Kot Valley and surrounding mountains. They ended up stranded on the slopes above Sirkhankel at altitudes of 2600 metres (8,530.2 ft) and 3100 metres (10,170.6 ft). While the second was too badly damaged to recover, the first was determined to be reparable and estimated to weigh 12000 kilograms (26,455.5 lb) (with all fuel, rotors, and non-essential equipment removed), which exceeded the maximum CH-47 payload of 9100 kilograms (20,062.1 lb) at an altitude of 2600 metres (8,530.2 ft).

The Mi-26 was located through Skylink Aviation in Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, which had connections with a Russian company called Sportsflite that operated three civilian Mi-26 versions called "Heavycopters". One of the aircraft, doing construction and firefighting work in neighboring Tajikistan
Tajikistan , officially the Republic of Tajikistan , is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east....

, was leased for $300,000; it lifted the Chinook with a hook and flew it to Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

, then later to Bagram Air Force Base in Parvan, Afghanistan for shipment to Fort Campbell
Fort Campbell
Fort Campbell is a United States Army installation located astraddle the Kentucky-Tennessee border between Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and Clarksville, Tennessee...

, Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

 for repairs. Six months later, a second U.S. Army CH-47 that had made a hard landing 100 miles (160.9 km) north of Bagram at an altitude of 1200 metres (3,937 ft) was recovered by another Sportsflite-operated Mi-26 Heavycopter.

Chechnya crash

On 19 August 2002, Chechen
The Chechen Republic , commonly referred to as Chechnya , also spelled Chechnia or Chechenia, sometimes referred to as Ichkeria , is a federal subject of Russia . It is located in the southeastern part of Europe in the Northern Caucasus mountains. The capital of the republic is the city of Grozny...

 separatists hit an overloaded Mi-26 with a surface to air missile, causing it to crash-land in a minefield
Land mine
A land mine is usually a weight-triggered explosive device which is intended to damage a target—either human or inanimate—by means of a blast and/or fragment impact....

 and killing 127 of the people onboard.

China, Wenchuan "Quake Lake" emergency

As a result of the magnitude 8.0 Sichuan earthquake
2008 Sichuan earthquake
The 2008 Sichuan earthquake or the Great Sichuan Earthquake was a deadly earthquake that measured at 8.0 Msand 7.9 Mw occurred at 14:28:01 CST...

 on 12 May 2008, many rivers became blocked by giant landslides, resulting in the formation of so-called quake lakes: massive amounts of water pooling up at a very high rate behind the landslide-formed dams
Landslide dam
A landslide dam, debris dam, or barrier lake is a natural damming of a river by some kind of mass wasting: landslide, debris flow, rock avalanche or volcano. If it is caused by earthquake, it may also be called a quake lake. Some landslide dams are as high as the largest existing artificial dam...

, which eventually crumble under the weight of the ever-increasing water mass, and potentially endangering the lives of millions downstream. At least one Mi-26 belonging to a branch of China's civil aviation service
China Flying Dragon Aviation
China Flying Dragon Aviation is an airline based in Harbin, Heilongjiang, People's Republic of China. It operates short-haul passenger and cargo charter flights, as well as maritime surveillance, aerial photography and forestry protection services. Its main base is Harbin Taiping International...

 was used to bring heavy earthmoving tractors to the most precarious of the quake-lakes at Tangjiashan
Mount Tangjia
Mount Tangjia is a mountain in Sichuan, People's Republic of China, 3.2 kilometres away from the county seat of Beichuan County.It overlooks the Jian River and Tangjiashan Lake, a landslide dam-created lake which was formed by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake....

 mountain, located in extremely difficult terrain and accessible only by foot or air.

Afghanistan helicopter downing

In July 2009, a Moldovan
Moldovan and Moldavian refer to something of, from, or related to Moldova, a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, or the region of Moldavia, which currently spans 8 north-eastern counties of Romania, the Republic of Moldova, and small parts of Ukraine...

 Mi-26 was shot down in Helmand province
Helmand Province
Helmand is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the southwest of the country. Its capital is Lashkar Gah. The Helmand River flows through the mainly desert region, providing water for irrigation....

 with the loss of six Ukrainian crew members. The aircraft, belonging to Pectox-Air aviation, was said to be on a humanitarian mission under NATO contract.

Indian Air Force Mi-26 crash

On December 14, 2010, an Indian Air Force
Indian Air Force
The Indian Air Force is the air arm of the Indian armed forces. Its primary responsibility is to secure Indian airspace and to conduct aerial warfare during a conflict...

 Mi-26 crashed seconds after taking off from Jammu Airport
Jammu Airport
Jammu Airport also known as Satwari Airport is an airport in Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir, India. It is situated 14 km from International boundary .-Airlines and Destinations:...

, injuring all 9 passengers. The aircraft fell from an altitude of about 50 feet (15.2 m), reportedly due to a technical malfunction. But as per investigation report by Indian Institute of flight safety the crash happened due to improper fastening of the truck inside which led to an imbalance of the helicopter. The Mi-26 had been chartered by the Konkan Railway
Konkan Railway
The Konkan Railway is a railway line which runs along the Konkan coast of India. It was constructed and is operated by the Konkan Railway Corporation...




Mi-26 Military cargo/freight transport version.
Upgraded version with an upgraded flight/navigation system.

Upgraded version of the Mi-26; designed for better performance.

Aeromedical evacuation version.

Anti-submarine warfare version.

Passenger transport version, with accommodation for 63 passengers.

Radio relay version.

Flying crane helicopter.

Disaster relief version.

Civil cargo/freight transport version.

Cargo transport version.

Flying crane helicopter.

Fire-fighting version.

Export version of the Mi-26T.

Fuel tanker version.

Improved version of the Mi-26T equipped with BREO-26 airborne electronic system, allowing it to fly any time, day or night, under good and bad weather conditions.

Proposed airborne command post variant; two prototypes built.

Military Operators

  • Belarusian Air Force
    Belarusian Air Force
    The Belarussian Air Force is the air force of the Armed Forces of Belarus, formed in 1992 from the 26th Air Army of the Soviet Air Forces which had been serving in the Byelorussian SSR.- Organization :...

     has 10 aircraft in service as of January 2011.

  • Royal Cambodian Air Force
    Royal Cambodian Air Force
    The Royal Cambodian Air Force is the branch of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces which is charged with operating all military aircraft in Cambodia.-Organization:...

     has two Mi-26s in use as of January 2011.

  • Air Force of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
    Air Force of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
    The Air Force of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo Air Force , is the air force branch of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

     has one Mi-26 in service as of January 2011.

  • Indian Air Force
    Indian Air Force
    The Indian Air Force is the air arm of the Indian armed forces. Its primary responsibility is to secure Indian airspace and to conduct aerial warfare during a conflict...

     has four Mi-26s in use as of January 2011.

  • Kazakh Air and Air Defense Forces has four in service as of January 2011.

  • Mexican Air Force
    Mexican Air Force
    The Mexican Air Force is the aviation branch of the Mexican Army and depends on the National Defense Secretariat . Since 2008, its commander is Gen...

     used to operate two units. Has one Mi-26 for sale. It has one Mi-26 in inventory as of January 2011.

  • North Korean Air Force
    North Korean Air Force
    The Korean People's Army Air Force, , is the name of the unified aviation forces of North Korea. The KPAF is the second-largest branch of the Korean People's Army with an estimated 110,000 personnel. It possesses between 1,600 and 1,700 aircraft of different types, mostly of Soviet and Chinese...

     operates four aircraft as of January 2011.

  • Peruvian Army
    Peruvian Army
    The Peruvian Army is the branch of the Peruvian Armed Forces tasked with safeguarding the independence, sovereignty and integrity of national territory on land through military force. Additional missions include assistance in safeguarding internal security, conducting disaster relief operations...

     has one aircraft in service as of January 2011.

  • Russian Air Force
    Russian Air Force
    The Russian Air Force is the air force of Russian Military. It is currently under the command of Colonel General Aleksandr Zelin. The Russian Navy has its own air arm, the Russian Naval Aviation, which is the former Soviet Aviatsiya Voyenno Morskogo Flota , or AV-MF).The Air Force was formed from...

     operates 16 aircraft as of January 2011.
  • Russian Army
    Russian Ground Forces
    The Russian Ground Forces are the land forces of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, formed from parts of the collapsing Soviet Army in 1992. The formation of these forces posed economic challenges after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and required reforms to professionalize the force...

  • Soviet Air Force
    Soviet Air Force
    The Soviet Air Force, officially known in Russian as Военно-воздушные силы or Voenno-Vozdushnye Sily and often abbreviated VVS was the official designation of one of the air forces of the Soviet Union. The other was the Soviet Air Defence Forces...

     and Soviet Army Aviation
    Soviet Army
    The Soviet Army is the name given to the main part of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union between 1946 and 1992. Previously, it had been known as the Red Army. Informally, Армия referred to all the MOD armed forces, except, in some cases, the Soviet Navy.This article covers the Soviet Ground...

     passed their aircraft to successor states.

  • Ukrainian Air Force
    Ukrainian Air Force
    The Ukrainian Air Force is a part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Ukrainian Air Force Command and headquarters are located in the city of Vinnytsia....

     has 10 Mi-26s in use as of January 2011.

  • Uzbekistan's Air Forces operates one Mi-26 as of January 2011.

  • Venezuelan Air Force operates two aircraft as of November 2008.

Civil operators

  • Rent Helicopters operates one Mi-26s built in USSR.

  • Skytech
    Skytech Helicopters is a Belgian helicopter company operating heavy-lift helicopters in different countries. The company is known for pioneering commercial operation of the Mil MI 26T in Western Europe from 1992.-History:...

     offers charters of Mi-26 and other USSR-built helicopters. They used to have 2 Mi-26s based at Charleroi-Gosselies EBCI airport.

  • Airborne Energy Solutions operates one Mi-26 contracted from UTair Aviation

  • China Flying Dragon Aviation
    China Flying Dragon Aviation
    China Flying Dragon Aviation is an airline based in Harbin, Heilongjiang, People's Republic of China. It operates short-haul passenger and cargo charter flights, as well as maritime surveillance, aerial photography and forestry protection services. Its main base is Harbin Taiping International...

     operates two Mi-26T.

  • Mi-26T "firebuster" 16 September 2000

  • Aeroflot
    OJSC AeroflotRussian Airlines , commonly known as Aeroflot , is the flag carrier and largest airline of the Russian Federation, based on passengers carried per year...

  • Avialift Vladivostok
  • UTair Aviation

  • Aeroflot
    OJSC AeroflotRussian Airlines , commonly known as Aeroflot , is the flag carrier and largest airline of the Russian Federation, based on passengers carried per year...

  • Heliswiss International operates one Mi-26

Specifications (Mi-26)

See also

External links

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