Peacekeeping: Russian Helicopters For Hire


July 23, 2008: Ireland has leased two Mi-8 helicopters from a Ukrainian firm, for use in Chad, to aid Irish peacekeepers. The 11 ton Mi-8 is a 1960s design. This chopper is about twice the size and weight of the Vietnam war era American UH-1, but only hauls about 50 percent more cargo. Thus the Mi-8 can carry 24 troops, or four tons of cargo. The UH-1 was replaced by the UH-60 in the 1980s, while the Mi-8 just kept adding better engines and electronics to the basic Mi-8 frame. The larger interior of the Mi-8 is popular with many users. The Mi-8 can cruise at about 200 kilometers an hour and stay in the air for about four hours per sortie. Over 12,000 Mi-8s have been built, and nearly 3,000 have been exported.

Meanwhile, the Irish military has bought six AW139s, and received five of them. Think of this as a modern version of the Mi-8. The eight ton AW139 can carry up to 15 passengers, and get by with just one pilot. Cruise speed is 288 kilometers an hour and endurance averages 3.2 hours. The AW139 is basically a civilian helicopter, while the Mi-17 is built to military standards. A military version of the AW139, the AW149, is in development, but won't be available for another 4-5 years.





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