25-Oct-2011 Source: HeliHub.com
The Russian Air Force is planning on receiving 22 new Mi-26T heavy-lift helicopters over the next four years, taking the total to 45.Â There are an additional 7 airframes awaiting overhaul or repair to take the complete fleet to 52.Â The Mi-26 is widely used in the Russian military for transportation of over-size items including radars, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, trucks etc weighing up to 20 tons, as well as soldiers and officers.
HeliHub.com understands that the main limitation to achieving this target is the supply of engines from their Ukrainian manufacturer Motor Sich.Â In December 2011, the company plans to start releasing a new version of the MI-26 engine known as the D-436 model with a new compressor.Â In a recent interview, Head of Analytical Department of the Institute of Political and Military Analysis Alexander Khramchikhin is quoted as saying that Ukraine could use the supply of these engines for political reasons – implying the ability to at lease pause deliveries – in just the same way that Russia uses gas supplies.
First vice-president of the Academy of Geopolitical Sciences Konstantin Sivkov has suggested that Russia should be investing in their own engine plant, citing expensive imported military items as wasting government funds – pointing at helicopter carriers from France, rifles from the UK, armoured cars from Italy and UAVs from Israel.
Nikolai Vanesev – HeliHub.com Moscow correspondent