Russian Heavyweight ‘Halo’ makes its Debut

By David Oliver

The first Mil Mil-26T2 ‘Halo’ heavy lift helicopter to be delivered to the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) earlier this year dominated the static display at SOFEX 2018. Powered by two 12,500 hp (9.325 kw) Ivchenko-Progress D-136-2 turboshaft engines drives an eight-blade 105 ft (32 m) diameter main rotor. The Mi-26T2, which is the largest operational helicopter in the world, can carry up to 82 fully equipped troops or 60 stretchers, or lift up to 20 tonnes of cargo either internally or as an underslung load. It is equipped with a rear loading ramp and clamshell doors capable of accepting large military vehicles in its 10.5 ft x 10.5 ft  (3.2m x 3.2m) hold and an overhead track-mounted hoists with a 2,500 kg lifting capacity.

The Mi-26T2 has a cruising speed of 158 mph (255 km/h) and a maximum range of 1,190 miles (1,920 km) with auxiliary tanks to a service ceiling of 15,100 feet.

The RJAF is taking delivery of four Mi-26s that will be operated by a new unit, No 26 (Falcon) Squadron. The T2 variant features the BREO-26 night and day all-weather avionics suite, a new digital autopilot and Navstar/GLONASS satellite navigation system, and a glass cockpit with five multi-functional LCDs.

The three-man RJAF Mi-26 air and rear crews, who included former Cobra and Super Puma pilots, undertook a six-month training course at the Rostvertol plant in Rostov-on-Don where more than 330 Mi-26s have been produced since 1980. Other customers for the Mi-26T2 include Algeria, which has ordered a large fleet of 14, and China.