Beginning of the biggest and most powerful chopper in the production is dated in the early 70's, when category of transport choppers in the Soviet Union represented mainly heavy Mi-6. This was dated back to 50's and for serving of the future tasks was proved obsolete and unsuitable. So on December 1971 were issued specifications for the new type with design name "Izdėlije 90", that counted with transport of 20 t cargo with 400 km range. Development of the new machine begun with wing cellule of the chopper, which was made from modern light materials, as lead to the hoped reduction of weight and larger power of the engine. After test of all wing cellule and after approval of maquette in 1975 was free to construction of the first prototype, which was finished in 1977. To the first flight came 14th December 1977 and since 1979 was available even second prototype. Development tests of both machines continued until August 1980, when followed enter into the service in 1983 with mark "Mi-26" and NATO code name "HALO".
TECHNICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF Mi-26:
The chopper is powered with two turboshafts engines Lotarev D-136, each with power up to 8500 kW (10,000 hp). Due to this the chopper had sufficient power reserve, against failure one of the engines, when the power of the remaining engine raised into maximum, that was sufficient for safe landing. Mi-26 as the first helicopter employs eight bladed main rotor. Maximum speed reaching 295 km/h and maximum service ceiling is 1800 m.
Carriage enable so-called "kneeling" for easier loading by back-gates. Beside it also relieves a couple of deck cranes, each with 5 tonne bearing, located on the roof of freight hold, that allows contain up to 20t of cargo.
The Mi-26 does not dispose of any armament, it's only equipped with flare dispensers and in windows crew has a gunports.
Crew of the chopper has five members. Two pilots (one as commander), behind the commander sit flight engineer and to the right from him is a navigator. The fifth member is a loadmaster.
Series production began already in 1977, however it progressed very slowly so the first flight of the first serial chopper (Nr. 01-01) was realized as late as 27th October 1980. First units, that obtained Soviet army in 1983, didn't get along without problems. The choppers were greatly faulty but the biggest problems bring along deficiencies on the tail rotor and a weak connection of tail beam with fuselage. However they're presently solved.
First combat engagement of Mi-26 was in War in Afghanistan in 1985, where were these new choppers in service under 23th border regiment. Their objective was mainly supply of troops and taking away of wounded. Mi-26 also took part in claims handling of Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster. Overall 288 of Mi-26's were made in serial production.
VARIANTS OF Mi-26:
Mi-26T - Civilian version. It hasn't gunports in windows neither flare dispensers. On other hand it has extended navigation equipment and stabilition system for cargo carried in a pod. Series production is proceeded since 1985.
Mi-26TM - Modification for assembling work. Two variants were made. In the first was installed cabin at the bottom of fuselage, in the second the cabin has been dropped from rear gates. First variant flew in 1992, second a year later.
Mi-26PK - Crane variant equiped with cab for crane operator, positioned in place of side doors.
Mi-26TP - Fire fighting variaton equiped with 4 water tanks and 2 for chemical additives. First flight was in 1994.
Mi-26TS - Export version of Mi-26T.
Mi-27 - Command post modification for 6 member staff and technical service. Two exemplars were made.
Mi-26S - Special modification for claims handling of Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster equipped with spray system for decontamination solution, which protected from scattering of nuclear dust elements.
Mi-26P - Version for border troops equipped with reconnaissance and communication equipment. Only one was made.
Mi-26NEF-M - Antiship variant equipped with subaqueous acoustic set and radar for sea surface target detection. One was made.
Mi-26PP - Electronic countermeasures modification. Again only one was made.
Mi-26M - projected modernization equipped with more powerful engine, more modern avionics and new rotor made out of composite materials.
source: ATM, www.fas.org, www.aeronautics.ru