Evolution of the Mi-8

Evolution of the Mi-8

13-Oct-2021 Source: Russian Helicopters

At the National Center for Helicopter Engineering named after M.L. Mil and N.I. Kamov completed development work to improve the Mi-8MTV-5-1 helicopter. According to the Russian Helicopters holding (part of the Rostec state corporation), the updated machine meets all the modern requirements of the army aviation of the Aerospace Forces of the Russian Federation. The next stage is mass production and delivery to the troops.

The birth of a legend 

The Mi-8 helicopter (at the first stages of the V-8 development) was created as part of a project to modernize the Mi-4 multipurpose helicopter, which had been produced since the early 1950s. At first, it was planned to equip the “eight” with a gas turbine engine instead of a piston engine, improve ergonomics and increase the carrying capacity. As a result, the development team led by designer Mikhail Mil created a new aircraft: the power plant was moved from the bow to the space above the cabin, the cockpit was equipped with more extensive glazing, and a tricycle landing gear was installed instead of the four-support one.

Passenger helicopter V-8, 1962 E. Polonsky / TASS

Passenger helicopter V-8, 1962

© E.Polonsky / TASS

On July 9, 1961, the first prototype of the V-8 with one AI-24V turboprop and a four-blade propeller took off. On August 2, 1962, a prototype V-8A with two TV2-117 engines and a five-blade propeller was first lifted off the ground by test pilot Nikolai Lyoshin, and on September 17 of the same year, the machine made its first full-fledged flight. 

The novelty was shown at the air parade in Tushino, and then exhibited at VDNKh as an example of the latest technologies in helicopter construction. Serial production of the Mi-8 started in March 1965 in Kazan.

Helicopter 100 professions

The demand for the Mi-8 surpassed all expectations: in 1970, they even had to launch a second serial production in Ulan-Ude. The first to appreciate all the advantages of the new car in “civilian life”. The Mi-8 is capable of operating in a terrain that is difficult to access for other types of transport, landing and taking off from small unprepared sites. A car with such dimensions and carrying capacity was very much awaited in remote regions of the country, in places where mining was carried out, which could only be reached by air.

Final assembly shop for Mi-8 helicopters, Ulan-Ude, 1993 Vladimir Matvievsky / TASS

Final assembly shop for Mi-8 helicopters, Ulan-Ude, 1993

© Vladimir Matvievsky / TASS

In 1968, the military modification of the Mi-8 was adopted. The first combat helicopters were designed to transport personnel and weapons, airborne marines, evacuate the wounded, fire support, suppress enemy firing points, and jamming. Over time, the use of the Mi-8 in the armed forces expanded; minelayers, flying workshops, tankers and even amphibians appeared.

In total, since the 1960s, about 100 modifications of this versatile machine have been produced. Today the legendary G8s can be seen all over the world – the helicopter has been delivered to more than 80 countries. The design of the Mi-8 turned out to be so successful that the production and improvement of the helicopter has not stopped to this day.


At the end of August, the Kazan Helicopter Plant of the Russian Helicopters holding was visited by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who was shown an upgraded version of the Mi-8MTV-5-1 military transport helicopter in service with the Russian army.

Military transport helicopter Mi-8MTV-5-1, on the basis of which the Mi-8MTV-5M was created Donat Sorokin / TASS

Military transport helicopter Mi-8MTV-5-1, on the basis of which the Mi-8MTV-5M was created

© Donat Sorokin / TASS

Mi-8MTV-5-1 has been supplied to the power structures of the Russian Federation since 2011. According to Rostec, it is designed for a wide range of tasks, including the transportation of goods up to 4 tons and participation in search and rescue operations. One of the main differences between the Mi-8MTV-5-1 is that the helicopter can orient itself perfectly even in complete darkness. Lighting equipment is installed in the cockpit, which, in combination with night vision goggles, allows you to fly at extremely low altitudes in the dark, take off and land on unprepared sites.

Among the design features of the Mi-8MTV-5-1 fuselage is the extended left door. Instead of the standard flaps that can be folded down manually, there is a ramp that opens using a hydraulic drive, which significantly reduces the time it takes to prepare the helicopter for loading and unloading.

The new version – Mi-8MTV-5M, which was shown to the Minister of Defense, received the most modern on-board equipment: a multifunctional display, a digital autopilot, a modern communications complex and an auxiliary power unit TA-14 of domestic production.

The Mi-8MTV-5M is also capable of performing night flights using night vision goggles, and its navigation and meteorological situation control systems are integrated into a single information field. The modern complex of communications equipment is unified with all helicopters supplied in the interests of the Russian Ministry of Defense and provides the function of data exchange between machines. Helicopters Mi-8MTV-5-1, which are in operation, can be modified to the appearance of the modernized Mi-8MTV-5M.

Further plans for the modernization of Mi-8/17 series helicopters for military transport versions supplied to various customers include improving flight performance through the use of a new carrier system. The vehicles will be equipped with Mi-38 helicopter blades and an X-shaped tail rotor. At the design stage of the blades for the Mi-38, they were tested on the G8. Thus, this technical solution has already been tested and will be introduced into the series.
Alexey Belykh
Managing Director of the Kazan Helicopter Plant

Arctic G8

Serial production of the Mi-8AMTSh-VA arctic vehicle began in 2015 at the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant (U-UAZ, part of the Russian Helicopters holding).

The frost-resistant helicopter was created specifically for the Arctic and the Far North. Among the main features of the design is a unique heating system for the units, thanks to which, even at -60 ° C, the helicopter engines start up with half a turn. The Mi-8AMTSh-VA is also equipped with improved thermal insulation of the fuselage.

Arctic helicopter Mi-8AMTSH-VA Kirill Kukhmar / TASS

Arctic helicopter Mi-8AMTSH-VA

© Kirill Kukhmar / TASS

The car can fly long distances (up to 1400 km) thanks to external additional fuel tanks. For the safety of the crew and passengers, special marine life suits are placed on board.

Helicopters of this modification have flown in the Arctic for several thousand hours and have proven themselves well in the harsh northern conditions. The unique heating system of the transmission units allows the helicopter to quickly start the engines even in the most severe frost, which is extremely important for organizing emergency flights of rescuers
Alexey Kozlov
Managing Director of Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant

At the last Eastern Economic Forum, the first agreement was signed for the supply of four Arctic helicopters to the EMERCOM of Russia. “This agreement is important for the development of the security system in the Arctic zone. Such helicopters are indispensable for fighting wildfires, can carry out sanitary evacuation and deliver rescuers to hard-to-reach areas. They are designed to operate in northern latitudes, which are characterized by low temperatures and high wind loads.” The new helicopters will enter service with the emerging Arctic units of the Russian Emergencies Ministry to protect the population and territories of the Arctic region of the Russian Federation and ensure the safety of the Northern Sea Route, “said Viktor Yatsutsenko, Deputy Minister of Emergencies of Russia.

Assault Special Forces

Transport and landing operations, fire support, support for the actions of special forces – this is just an incomplete list of what the new military transport helicopter Mi-8AMTSh-VN can do.

Military transport helicopter Mi-8AMTSh-VN Nikolay Novichkov / TASS

Military transport helicopter Mi-8AMTSh-VN

© Nikolay Novichkov / TASS

The machine was developed by the Mil company on the basis of the Mi-8AMTSh, known under the formidable name “Terminator”. A prototype of this type was first demonstrated to the general public at the MAKS-2017 exhibition.

According to the manufacturer, thanks to the on-board defense system, titanium and Kevlar armor, the helicopter received increased combat survivability and protection. The armor covers not only the crew and the most important units of the helicopter, but also the cargo compartment with the paratroopers. For the convenience of their disembarkation, the Mi-8AMTSh is equipped with two sliding doors and additional hatches.  

On board the vehicle there are 12.7 mm machine guns, unguided missiles, bombs of various calibers, as well as a complex of guided missiles with a surveillance and sighting system, which makes it possible to fight air and ground targets, destroy enemy gun emplacements and armored vehicles.

The new rotor system of the helicopter is based on an improved propeller with all-composite blades of a modern aerodynamic configuration. Its use in combination with more powerful engines made it possible to increase maneuverability, flight speed, and obtain new characteristics when working in highlands and hot climates. Another important feature of the Mi-8AMTSh-VN is its more efficient X-shaped tail rotor.

The helicopter is equipped with a gyro-stabilized optoelectronic system, supplemented by a search light with an infrared spectrum, dual-band lighting equipment and adapted for the use of night vision goggles. Many combat missions can be performed automatically thanks to the integrated flight and navigation system and digital autopilot. During the flight, it reduces the workload on the crew.

New “heart” for the civilian car

The Mi-171A2 multipurpose helicopter is one of the most modern modifications of the Mi-8/17 type helicopters, the result of a deep modernization of the Mi-171A1 civilian model certified abroad. The carrier system with the transmission, the electronic filling and the “heart” of the car – the engine – were updated.

Multipurpose helicopter Mi-171A2 Roman Azanov / TASS

Multipurpose helicopter Mi-171A2

© Roman Azanov / TASS

The VK-2500 turboshaft engine was developed by the United Engine Corporation (UEC) as part of the import substitution program. The unit replaced the Ukrainian TV3-117, which was used to equip the Mi-8/17 helicopters of the later series. Today the engines of the latest modification VK-2500PS-03 are installed on the Mi-171A2 – the civilian version of the engines used on the Mi-28N combat attack helicopters.

The main differences of the new engine are the modern Russian electronic automatic control system and anti-surge protection. The BARK-78 automatic regulation and control unit, developed by UEC-Klimov, made it possible to increase the engine power in emergency mode, to maintain modes in a wider range of outside air temperatures, and to increase resources and fuel efficiency indicators.

As the developers note, rotary-wing aircraft with such engines are reliably protected from failure of the power plant, which may occur due to powerful air flows or a strong drop in pressure in hot climates and in high mountain regions.

In the Mi-171A2, the onboard equipment system was also modernized. The use of the digital complex KBO-17 of the “Radioelectronic Technologies” concern, created on the principle of a “glass cockpit” with a flight-navigation complex and video cameras, improved the visibility when working with an external suspension. In addition, the helicopter uses modern systems to prevent collisions with the ground, other aircraft and obstacles.

“Currently, Rostec is working to expand the characteristics of the Mi-171A2 helicopter in terms of the take-off, landing and passenger transportation in mountainous terrain at altitudes up to 5,000 meters above sea level,” First Deputy General Director of Rostec Vladimir Artyakov told TASS. a set of individual oxygen equipment will be installed for each passenger and flight attendant. Testing with the subsequent approval by the Federal Air Transport Agency of the main change to the helicopter certificate is planned for 2022, after which the procedure will be validated for this option in the aviation authorities of India and other countries. “

Shelf duty

Flight tests of the Russian Mi-171A3 offshore helicopter will begin in 2022. It was created to help oil and gas companies, which are moving further and further from the coast in search of new offshore fields.

Helicopter Mi-171A3 Sergey Karpukhin / TASS

Helicopter Mi-171A3

© Sergey Karpukhin / TASS

“On offshore platforms, often in harsh climatic conditions, helicopters are indispensable. Today, over a third of all offshore operations are performed with their help. works “, – says Artyakov.

Helicopters of the “Mi” family flew to shelves back in Soviet times and managed to earn a reputation as reliable machines well adapted to such work. For example, the Mi-8T is capable of taking on board up to 24 passengers and covering 500 km. However, older helicopter models do not meet modern airworthiness standards, in particular, the safety of flights over water. At the same time, they have higher fuel consumption and outdated onboard equipment.

The development of a modern offshore helicopter in Russia began in 2018, and already in February 2020, Russian Helicopters, together with Russian fuel and energy companies, approved the appearance of the machine.

The Mi-171A3 with a maximum takeoff weight of 13,000 kg and a flight range of up to 1,000 km meets the safety requirements for helicopter services in the energy sector of the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP). In addition, the helicopter is equipped with an emergency splashdown system and liferafts.

One of the most important characteristics of such helicopters is the ability to fly in adverse weather conditions. The Mi-171A3 is ready for all-weather operation in any climate: sea, tropical or cold, at temperatures from -50 to +50 ° C, in any latitude and even in icy conditions. Much attention is also paid to the ability of the helicopter to carry out rescue operations. For this, the car is equipped with a special search complex and rescue equipment.
Vladimir Artyakov
First Deputy General Director of Rostec

The development of the Mi family continues. New engines, avionics, main and tail rotors, navigation systems, as well as the introduction of composite materials allow the Mi-8 helicopters to meet the most modern aviation requirements. In the class of civilian heavy helicopters (maximum take-off weight from 10 to 16 tons), the Mi-8/17 have been holding about 90% of the world market in quantitative terms for several years. And, according to the designers of the M.L. Mil and N.I. Kamov, the potential of the G8 for modernization is practically inexhaustible.

Vasily Kuchushev

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