Which is the
largest and most capable military transport helicopter in the world?
This Top 10
analysis is based on size and payload capacity. This list do not includes
helicopters, that are
currently being developed. It includes only
production helicopters that are currently in service, or are ready
top 10 most capable military transport helicopters in the world are these:
Mil Mi-26 (Russia)
Mi-26 is the world's largest production helicopter. It is known in
the West as Halo. Currently this heavy-lift machine is in
service with nearly 20 countries, including Russia and India.
development began in the early 1970s. Designers had a goal to
produce a helicopter with a load capacity twice that of any
contemporary machine. It became operational in 1983.
has the load-carrying capability of a
C-130 transport plane. Its cargo area, with the rear ramp
closed, is 12 m long, and 3.2 m wide, with a minimum ceiling height
of 2.9 m.
can be configured to seat 80 combat-equipped troops or 60
stretchers. However there were cases when it flew with 150 troops.
Alternatively this cargo helicopter can carry two combat vehicles
weighting 10 000 kg each. The Mi-26 can also carry various loads
model, the Mi-26M can lift even more. It has a payload capacity of
25 000 kg.
CH-53K King Stallion
CH-53K King Stallion helicopter was developed to meet
requirements of the US Marine Corps. It is a further development of
CH-53E Super Stallion. Since 1974 the Super Stallion was the
largest and most powerful helicopter outside Russia. It is being
replaced by the latest King Stallion, which is even larger and more
powerful. The CH-53K has similar airframe as its predecessor, but
has notably improved performance. This heavy helicopter was first
publicly revealed in 2014. The King Stallion
operating capability with the US Marine Corps in 2018. Currently it
is the largest and
heaviest helicopter used by the US military.
military helicopter was designed to deliver troops, vehicles and supplies
from ships to shore. The CH-53K has an payload capacity of 15.9 t.
It can carry around 37 troops. With centerline seats installed the
King Stallion can carry around 55 soldiers. It can transport heavy
weapons and vehicles externally. It is capable of lifting
armored vehicle or
155 mm field howitzer with its crew and ammunition. Also it can
recover downed air vehicles up to its own size. The US Navy will use a small number of these
helicopters for shipboard resupply.
ubiquitous CH-47 Chinook was developed to meet a US Army
requirement. It first flew back in 1961.This utility helicopter
became operational in 1962. Since
then over 1 160 have been built, including models license-produced
in Italy and Japan. It has been exported all over the world.
Chinooks are planned to remain operational with the US Army beyond
2060, or over 100 years after it first entered service.
helicopter performs various transport missions.
It transports troops, war supplies and battlefield equipment. This
helicopter is also deployed in medical evacuation, search and
rescue, aircraft recovery, parachute drop and other operations.
It accomodates up to 44 passengers. It can lift
10 300 kg of cargo internally and 11 300 kg externally. It has two
external cargo hooks and can carry various loads, such as light
vehicles or artillery pieces externally.
The CH-47F is a recent version. It can carry up to 55 passengers or
up to 12 700 kg of cargo. Existing CH-47D helicopters can be
upgraded to this standard, or these can be newly produced. By 2014
US Army and National Guard obtained 300 of these helicopters. The
CH-47F has been exported to some countries.
Osprey is not exactly a helicopter. It is a first operational tiltrotor. The Osprey combines vertical lift capabilities of a
helicopter with a flight speed of a fixed-wing turboprop aircraft.
It is used by US Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy. Deliveries
commenced in 2001.
the Osprey is one of the largest VTOL aircraft. It accommodates 24
troops. This tiltrotor transport can carry 9 000 kg internally or 6
800 kg externally.
can fly at a maximum cruising speed of just over 500 km/h. It is
nearly twice faster than most utility helicopters can fly. Also this tiltrotor is capable of in-flight refueling.
can operate from large amphibious assault ships or aircraft
carriers. On board it can be compactly stored.
Osprey tiltrotor transport has a significant advantage over
helicopters that it can fly twice faster and another advantage over
aircraft that it lands vertically. So it can land on ships or rough
The Mi-38 is
a transport helicopter, aimed both at military and civil customers.
It is being proposed as a replacement for the ageing
series helicopters. Initially it was developed as an improved
version of the Mi-8. However it has so many differences, that
the Mi-38 is a totally new design, rather than improved version of
the Mi-8. It has new airframe,
engines, rotor system and avionics. It can be seen as a new
generation of the Mi-8. Development
of this helicopter is now complete. Its small-scale production began
in 2017. In 2018 it was announced that series production of the
Mi-38 began. First production helicopter was planned to be delivered to
the Russian military in 2018.
passenger transport missions this helicopter accommodates up to 32
troops. It can carry
5 000 kg of cargo internally or 7 000 kg externally.
versions of the Mi-38 are planned to be produced for different missions.
Equipment may be fitted for emergency landing on water. Also it can
be adopted as an ambulance.
Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) EC 725 Super Cougar or Caracal
is a long-range tactical transport helicopter. It evolved from the
Eurocopter Puma/Cougar family. It was specially developed to
meet a French Air Force requirement for a specialist helicopter for
combat search and rescue operations. The new helicopter made its
first flight in 2000. First helicopter was delivered to the French
Air Force in 2005. Later it has been adopted by the French Army.
This helicopter has been adopted by Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia,
Mexico. Some other countries ordered this helicopter.
The EC 725
can carry up to 28 troops or 5 670 kg of payload internally.
External payload is around 4 500 kg.
The EC 725
can be used not only for combat search and rescue, but also for
troop and cargo transport, or casualty evacuation. This helicopter
can be fitted with add-on armor plating and can operate in combat
environment. Also there is an ASW version of this helicopter.
The Z-18 is
a new Chinese military transport helicopter. It was developed by
Changhe Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG). It evolved from a civilian
Avicopter AC313, which in turn is based on a
naval anti-submarine warfare and utility helicopter. The Z-18 is
the largest military helicopter ever developed in China. The new
helicopter was first publicly exposed in 2014. It seems that the
Z-18 is already in service with Chinese military. It will gradually
replace older Z-8 helicopters.
Z-18 helicopter is based on the Harbin Z-8 design, but has a
redesigned fuselage and more powerful engines. As a result the new
Z-18 has more internal space, can carry more payload and has overall
better performance at higher altitude and temperature. It has been
reported that composites and titanium are extensively used in
production of this helicopter.
helicopter accommodates about 27 passengers. It can transport 4 000 kg internally
or 5 000 kg
test flight in Tibet the Z-18 broke a record by attaining an
altitude of 9 000 m and flying above Mount Everest. It is the first
time a large helicopter managed to fly that high.
AW101 (Italy / United Kingdom)
AgustaWestland AW101 was developed as a modern naval utility
helicopter. Previously this chopper was known as Eurocopter
Industries EH101. It was jointly produced by Agusta of Italy and
Westland Helicopters of United Kingdom. However in 2000 Agusta
and Westland Helicopters merged and formed AgustaWestland. Since
2007 this helicopter is marketed as AgustaWestland AW101. There are
utility and anti-submarine warfare versions of this helicopter.
EH101/AW101 is in service with Italy and United Kingdom. It has been
exported to Algeria, Canada (CH-149 Cormorant), Denmark, Nigeria,
Portugal, Saudi Arabia, and Turkmenistan. It is license-produced in
Japan and United States. It is worth noting that Britain, Denmark
and Portugal use the name Merlin for this helicopter.
version of the AW101 accommodates 26 soldiers. Payload capacity is
around 4 000 - 5 000 kg. This amount of cargo can be carried
internally or under slung. Furthermore Royal Air Force operates a
Merlin HC.Mk.3 version, that accommodates a maximum of 45 troops or
up to 6 000 kg of payload internally.
The Mil Mi-8
is one of the most prolific utility helicopters ever built with over
7 300 examples manufactured since 1961. Its export version the
Mi-17, was widely exported. This helicopter is in service with more
than 60 countries. Variants of this prolific helicopter are still
widely built version for military customers is the Mi-8T, the
standard utility transport. It accommodates 24 troops. Alternatively
it can transport 4 000 kg of cargo internally or 3 000 kg
is an armed derivative, that packs a heavy punch with a trainable
machine-gun, bombs, rockets and anti-tank guided missiles.
helicopter has given rise to a bewildering range of versions that
fulfil a wide variety of specialized roles. Dedicated combat support
variants include airborne reserve command post, electronic counter
measures, communications intelligence and command relay. Other
versions carry out delivery of fuel to front-line units,
photo-reconnaissance, artillery fire-correction, reconnaissance, VIP
transport, minelaying and mineclearing.
Germany, Italy, Netherlands)
In 1985 five
European nations signed a memorandum of understanding covering a
NATO helicopter for the 90s, or NH90. The UK dropped out of the
programme in 1987 in favor to the
101, leaving France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands in the
project by means of NH Industries.
initial versions were the NH90 NFH (NATO Frigate Helicopter) for the
autonomous anti-submarine warfare and anti-ship roles, and the NH90
TTH (Tactical Transport Helicopter) for assault transport, rescue,
electronic warfare and VIP transport duties.
helicopters are in service with France, Germany, Italy and the
Netherlands. It has been exported to Australia, Belgium, Greece, New
Zealand, Norway, Oman and Sweden.
The NH90 TTH
transport helicopter accommodates 20 troops. Alternatively it can
carry 2 000 to 5 000 kg of cargo internally or 4 200 kg externally.