Russian Helicopters has successfully completed preliminary flight tests of the Mi-26T2V heavy-lift helicopter. The eight-blade Mi-26 has been in production since 1980, can carry a payload of up to 44,000 pounds, and still holds the record for the heaviest mass lifted by a helicopter—125,153.8 pounds. More than 300 have been produced.
The Mi-26T2V is a variant that first flew last August and is fitted with significant upgrades. They include an NPK90-2V digital avionics suite, a sophisticated autopilot that flew the helicopter down to final approach, a night vision goggle compatible cockpit, an improved navigation system and satcom, new energy-absorbing crew seats, and the Vitebsk onboard aircraft defense system. Vitebsk defends against radar, laser, optic-electric, and thermal threats with a combination of an ultraviolet and infrared directional finder, laser and radar detection, optical-electronic suppression, active radar jamming, and chaff dispensers.
The Mi-26 is used mainly by the Russian military to transport heavy military equipment such as mobile ballistic missiles and armored personnel carriers. It is the basis for the new and somewhat smaller Sino-Russian Advanced Heavy Lift (AHL) helicopter currently under development by China’s Avic.