The Kazakhstan Air Forces have been armed with a second heavy transport helicopter Mil Mi-26. In service with civilian and military operators, it is the largest and most powerful helicopter ever to have gone into mass production.
Practice flights of the Mi-26 were carried out at a military airbase in Almaty. The helicopter under discussion has spent a few years in Novosibirsk undergoing major repairs and now it is adjusted to peculiarities of the Air Forces of Kazakhstan. The Mi-26 is designed for many purposes, from military equipment and personnel transportation to fire extinguishing.
There are different helicopters at the airbase but the Mi-26 is unmistakable.
The photographs have been taken from an American H-2.
The cityâ€™s industrial area looks pretty interesting when seen from the helicopter.
The Mi-26 may lift up to 20 tons! It has been registered in Guinness World Records for lifting 20 tons of load at an altitude of 6,000 m!
This could be achieved due to its new 10,000 hp engine D-136. Sikorsky from the USA manufactures a helicopter with similar purposes but the load-carrying ability of the Mi-26 is twice as much.
This is the way the railway station Almaty-1 looks from the Mi-26.
Today the helicopter is used by Kazakhstan, Russia and 12 other countries. The total number of the helicopters produced is 310. When the Soviet Union fell, 24 helicopters were left in Kazakhstan.
In the 90s, the helicopters were laid up. Each helicopter is estimated at 25 million dollars and it is only today that their partial restoration became possible. The first modernized Mi-26 was added to the armory three years ago.
A second modernized helicopter was added to the Kazakhstan Air Forces in December 2011.
The crew includes 5 people. In case there is a special fire-extinguishing device aboard, one more person joins the crew. The helicopter may lift up to 15 tons of water.
Marat Iskakov is one of the most experienced pilots in the post-Soviet space. He says the helicopter is very complex and expensive and he is in charge of it. It also makes him happy to know that the army is being modernized. They make practice flights on a regular basis which greatly motivates young pilots.