Russia tries to use passenger jet engines for its heavy helicopters reliant on Ukrainian engines – Defense24

Russian Mi-26 heavy transport helicopter. Illustrative photo. Source: 

Russia, Russo-Ukrainian war 2022-2023

The world’s largest Mi-26 transport helicopters used by the Russian army may soon be grounded after Ukrainian law enforcers arrested Viacheslav Bohuslaiev, the head of the Zaporizhzhia-based Motor Sich plant, which deprived Russia of supplies of Ukrainian D-136 engines used to power the Mi-26s. The Russian replacement for D-136s could go into production only in 2025 and if the prototype that has been in development since 2016 would be completed, according to the Polish portal Defense24.

The Soviet-designed Mil Mi-26 is a twin-engine heavy transport helicopter that entered into service in 1985 in both military and civilian roles. It is the largest and most powerful helicopter to have gone into serial production. The Mi-26 with a take-off weight of 56 tons and a fuselage of over 33 meters is powered by two powerful Ukrainian D-136 turboshaft engines which move the main rotor which is 32 meters in diameter. The Mi-26 is capable of transporting up to 20 tons of cargo or 90 troops or 60 stretchers.

Motor Sich president charged with treason after Ukrainian engines found in Russian helicopters

With delays in the production of the light military transport aircraft Il-112V, Russia had announced that it would use the Mi-26 as a substitute for the operational capabilities of the Il-112s, planning to purchase 20 Mi-26 helicopters by 2025. However, the only manufacturer of the Mi-26’s D-136 engines is the Ukrainian company Motor Sich. As the Security Service of Ukraine revealed the schemes of smuggling the engines into Russia and arrested the Motor Sich CEO who covered the schemes, Russia’s future serial production of the Mi-26s has become questionable.

Published phone calls prove treason of the arrested Motor Sich president who supplied engines to Russia

“Of course, in the long run, relying on smuggling engines for the entire fleet of key transport helicopters is very risky. That is why Russia is working on a national replacement. However, not everything goes according to plan,” Defense24 says.

The Russian engine manufacturer ODK-Aviadvigatel announced in 2016 that it had been working on a turbo engine PD-12V for two years to replace the Ukrainian D-136 starting in 2018-2019. The Russian analog is based on the PD-14 jet engine used on the Russian passenger aircraft Irkut MC-21.

“With the fact that we have 2022 and the PD-12V engine is to be ready for testing in 2023 and go to production in 2025. Or rather it was to go into production three years ago,” the report reads.

In August 2022, Russian media reported that instead of the PD-12W, the new Mi-26 will use engines based on the lighter PD-8 engine developed for Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft, although the date of its introduction on helicopters was never mentioned.

“There is no information on the reasons for changing the gas turbine from PD-14 to PD-8. This will certainly not shorten the time to start production, which can be expected at the earliest around 2025. Of course, if there are no complications in this program, which is very likely. The fact remains, however, that on the basis of PD-14, the Russians have failed to produce an engine for propulsion of the super-helicopter in the last 6-8 years,” Defense24 notes.


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