Mil Mi 26 | Largest Transport Helicopter | Indian Air Force
Mil Mi 26 | Largest Transport Helicopter | Indian Air Force

Mil Mi 26 | Largest Transport Helicopter | Indian Air Force

The Mil Mi-26, the heaviest and the largest helicopter in the world. It is used for the purpose of transporting heavy goods. The overall carrying weight is up to 20 tonnes. On the other hand, it is a two-engine aircraft which helps in carrying heavy transport. The Mil Moscow helicopter plant has manufactured this heaviest Russian aircraft. The Mil Mi-26 is also the second-largest and most powerful helicopter in the world. Mil Mi-26 entered into service in 1985. Nonetheless, the Mil Mi-26 is a type of heavy-lift helicopter and only 5 crew members can sit in the aircraft. Those members are:

  • Pilot
  • Co-pilot
  • Navigator
  • Flight Engineer
  • Electronic System Operator

Also, read HAL Rudra | Attack Helicopter | Indian Air Force.

On the contrary, there are seats for around 70-100 passengers in Mil Mi-26. The operators of the Mil M-26 are the Russian Air Force, Aeroflot, Ukrainian Air Force, and Indian Air Force. India became one of the first buyers of Mi-26 when it was developed by the former Soviet Union at the beginning of the 1980s. Around 1986 and 1989 there were four Mi-26 helicopters, one crashing at the Airport of Jammu in 2010.

Mil Mi-26 Features

The Mi-26 is composed of eight principal rotor blades on the middle of the fuselage and also five tail rotor blades on the hump. Likewise, the heavy load capability and the high speed of the cruise allow for the economic efficiency of the helicopter. A freight cabin at the back of the cockpit is also part of the helicopter. Thus, two fighting vehicles of approximately 1000 kg can be installed in the 12m long, 3,3m wide and 3,2m high compartment. The cabin is fitted with two electric winches on the overhead track. The camera also has a closed-circuit TV camera for monitoring slung load positioning.

The Mi-26 helicopter also features electrically de-iced head and tail rotor blades, infrared jammers, infrared removals, infrasound dispensers and a colour coding flare protection mechanism to shield the helicopter from ballistic missiles. On the whole, infrared jammers interrupt the propagation of infrared signal and shield the helicopter from infrared rockets.

Also, read HAL Chetak | The Multipurpose Helicopter | Indian Air Force.

General Characteristics

Crew2 pilots, 1 navigator, 1 flight engineer, 1 flight technician
Capacitytroops or 60 stretchers20,000 kg (44,000 lb) cargo
Length40.025 m (131 ft 4 in)
Height8.145 m (26 ft 9 in)
Empty weight28,200 kg (62,170 lb)
Gross weight49,600 kg (109,349 lb)
Max takeoff weight56,000 kg (123,459 lb)
Powerplant2 × ZMKB Progress D-136 turboshaft engines, 8,500 kW (11,400 hp) each
Main rotor diameter32 m (105 ft 0 in)
Main rotor area804.25 m2 (8,656.9 sq ft)
Blade sectionRoot: TsAGI 12%
Tip: TsAGI 9%

Engine, Cockpit & Landing Gear

The cockpit accommodates the pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer, navigator and radio operator five aircraft, pressurized to optimize visibility. However, in the front of the cockpit control panel, the pilot and co-pilot seat neighbour to each other. Also, on the rear of the pilot’s seat are the flight engineer and navigator chairs. It has a tricycle lander and two steering nose wheels that is not retractable. Thus, the hydraulic crane enables the loading of various surfaces utilizing ladders and sub-leaders via back doors. Installation weight on the main gear racks on the rear side of the aircraft engineer seat can also be reflected in a sensor or electronic screen.

Two Lotarev D-136 turbocharged engines power Mi-26 and the capacity of each motor is 8,380 kW. Also, a consistent rotor rpm is maintained by the synchronization of outputs of both engines. Nonetheless, in the absence of the first engine, the second engine’s output is raised to full power. Titanium is also produced for each engine bay to protect against fire. Each tank has 12,000 litres of full inner fuel capacity.

Mil Mi-26 Variants

  • V-29: Variant of the prototype.
  • Mi-26: Variant of military freight/cargo transport. Name: ‘Halo-A’ NATO Name.
  • Mi-26A: Military upgraded variant with a new navigation/flight system. Hence, the spikes were not produced in 1985.
  • Mi-26M: Modernized variant of the Mi-26 to have improved performance with the ZMKB Progress D-127 engines.
  • Mi-26S: The edition of the Chernobyl Nuclear accident disaster response.
  • Mi-26T: The basic edition of civil freight. 1985 manufacturing.
  • Mi-26TS: Variant of civil freight shipping, also available in Mi-26TC.
  • Mi-26TM: Pilot/crane operator flying crane variant with the underneath nose gondola.
  • Mi-26TP: 15,000 liters internal fire retardant tank version firefighting.
  • Mi-26MS: Mi-26T variant of medical evacuation. Up to 60 stretcher cases can also be used in the field of emergency or as a field hospital.
  • Mi-26PK: Mi-26P’s flying crane.
  • Mi- 26T2: Enhanced Mi-26T variant fitted with an electronic airborne system BREO-26. It also makes you travel in good and poor weather at any time, day or night.
  • Mi-26T2V: The first variant of modernization for the Russian military fitted with a new avionics suite NPK90-2V. The cockpit supports multifunctional displays, which helps during night vision.
  • Mi-27: Airborne post version proposed; two prototypes constructed.


Maximum speed295 km/h (183 mph, 159 kn)
Cruise speed255 km/h (158 mph, 138 kn)
Range500 km (310 mi, 270 nmi) with 7,700 kg (17,000 lb) cargo
Ferry range1,920 km (1,190 mi, 1,040 nmi with auxiliary tanks)
Service ceiling4,600 m (15,100 ft)

Also, read CH-47 Chinook Helicopter | Indian Air Force.

Operations by IAF

Nonetheless, on Feb 89, the only underslung MI-26 helicopter to have carried on its kind is the Pontoon bridge from Ludhiana to Sirhind channel. A crashed MiG-21 had been brought to Chandigarh by the Unit at the beginning of 1999. Also, on 21 Nov 2001, Bhuj had been helified by the Mi-8, who crashed in the Kutch Rann and in 2002, the unit aircraft was transported to Ambala Air Force Station by a MiG-21 Bison which crashed in fields near Ambala. The first passenger aircraft (Beechcraft) feel the recovery in July 2002 from the Mi-26 and it was also involved in an accident on the airfield of Kangra. The unit flew the longest underslung flight ever was another first (3:15 hrs).

On February 22, 2006, Wg Cdr Sushil Ghera, who flown by the CO, took off from the Mi-17 to the Chandigarh Air Force Station in a bed a few days before that. Also, in September 2007, Bandipore to Awantipura airliner Mi-17 1V. The helicopter actively in use since 2010 for railway lifts to the Srinagar Valley in the Katra-Quazigand Railway Programme.

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