Russian Helicopters, part of the Russian state corporation Rostec, is featuring an example of its new Arctic-variant Mi-8AMTSh-VA helicopter at a private showing during the International Military and Technical Forum ARMY-2016, according to a company news release. Like the U.S. Chinook, the venerable Mi-8’s original design goes back five decades, but it has likewise been continually improved over the years.
The new Mi8MTSh-VA helicopter is based on the Mi-8AMTSh, but has been modified and adapted for Arctic use. Among the modifications is a system to heat the engine and transmission oil. The company says this allows for quick engine starts with autonomous and non-hangar helicopter storage at temperatures as low as -60°C.
Other modifications to adapt the aircraft for long distance flights over the Arctic include additional external fuel tanks to increase range, a digital autopilot, immersion suits for the pilots, life rafts, and additional thermal insulation as well as equipment for heating food for crew members and embarked personnel.
“Technical solutions implemented in the Arctic version of Mi-8AMTSh-VA can be used not only in the interest of the Russian Defense Ministry but also for civilian projects,” said Vladislav Savelyev, director of public procurement and military-technical cooperation at Russian Helicopters. “These helicopters might interest those who have businesses related to the Arctic region – such as oil and gas companies, exploration and transport enterprises.”
Other modifications to adapt the aircraft for long distance flights over the Arctic include additional external fuel tanks to increase range, a digital autopilot, immersion suits for the pilots, life rafts, and additional thermal insulation, as well as equipment for heating food for crew members and embarked personnel. The new navigation and communications gear includes an inertial navigation system important in the far north where there are few reference points and flights often take place during the polar night. The inertial system is necessary because ionization interference as well as the very low elevation of positioning satellites on the Arctic horizon makes reception of GPS signals spotty at best.
The first batch of the Arctic Mi-8AMTSh-VA helicopters is already in service with the Russian Defense Ministry, according to the company, and further batches will be delivered this year and in 2017.