In an era where a lot of the focus is on smaller helicopters — sometimes unmanned, like the MQ-8 Fire Scout — there are some big choppers out there worth mentioning. Arguably the world’s biggest helicopter comes from Russia’s Mil design bureau.
That helicopter is the Mi-26, known by the NATO code name “Halo.” According to militaryfactory.com, it is freaking huge.
This beast comes in at almost 131 feet four inches long, just under 105 feet wide, and just under 26 feet nine inches tall. It can carry up to 90 troops — two full light infantry platoons — into combat, or lift over 22 tons of cargo. By comparison, the Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion can carry up to 55 troops, is 99 feet long, 78 feet nine inches wide, and 27 feet nine inches tall. It can lift up to 15 tons of cargo.
The Mi-26 has been widely exported — 17 countries use it. The CH-53E, on the only hand has been primarily operated by the United States, with some airframes exported to Japan. The Mi-26 has also come in a number of variants, including passenger transport (more convenient than commuter planes), medevac (capable of carrying 60 litters), a heavy-lift crane, and even anti-submarine versions.
This chopper’s huge capacity has been helpful in a number of disaster relief operations, notably after severe earthquakes in China. But the large capacity has been a double-edge sword. When Chechen militants shot down a Mi-26 in 2002, the death toll reached 125.
The Mi-26 has been in service since 1986, and with over 300 airframes produced. Will likely see action for a long time. Check out the video below to learn more about this Russian beast.