The world’s fastest military helicopters

4 June 2019 (Last Updated November 26th, 2019 13:01)

Be it combat, troop deployment or supplies, speed is a critical requirement for military helicopters. Airforce-technology.com lists the world’s fastest military helicopters currently in operation.

The world’s fastest military helicopters

CH-47F Chinook

With a maximum speed of 315km/h, the CH-47F Chinook is the world’s fastest military helicopter. Manufactured by Boeing Defense, Space & Security, the Chinook is capable of performing multiple missions and was first fielded by the US Army’s operational unit in July 2007 for the transportation of troops, artillery, equipment and cargo in support of combat and humanitarian relief operations.

The helicopter incorporates an upgraded airframe and a high-capacity fuel system, allowing it to cover twice the distance of similar helicopters. Its tandem rotor layout allows operability in adverse weather, high altitude and crosswind conditions.

Two powerful Honeywell T55-GA-714A engines generating 4,777shp (3,529kW) of power each enable the CH-47F fly at altitudes up to 20,000ft (6,096m) while carrying a load of 10,886kg. The helicopter’s fuel tank holds 3,194l of fuel, ensuring a mission radius of 370.4km.

Mi-35M Helicopter (Upgraded Mi-24)

The Mi-35M (Nato codename: Hind E) is a multi-purpose military transport helicopter designed to cruise at a maximum speed of 310km/h. Developed by Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant, the Mi-35M is an upgraded version of Mi-24 HIND helicopter and can conduct combat missions in adverse weather conditions day and night.

The Mi-35M entered the serial production phase in 2005 at Rostvertol plant and is currently in service with the Russian Air Force and armed forces of Venezuela, Brazil, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, and Mali. It can be used to target armoured vehicles, fire support, landing and evacuation of troops, as well as transportation of cargo.

The helicopter is powered by two ТVЗ-117VМА or VK-2500 engines developing 2,200hp each. The power plant enables a maximum take-off weight of 11,500kg. The operational altitude and normal range of the helicopter are 5,400m (17,716ft) and 460km respectively.

AW101 Merlin (formerly EH101)

The EH101 Merlin (now known as AW101) is a flexible medium-lift helicopter, which can fly at a maximum speed of 309km/h, making it one of the fastest military rotorcraft. It is produced by Leonardo (formerly AgustaWestland) for military and civilian applications.

The EH101 made its first flight in October 1987 and the first helicopter entered service with the Royal Navy in June 2000. The helicopter can accommodate 38 soldiers and be fitted with missiles, torpedoes and personal weapons, as well as an advanced self-protection suite for countering missile threats.

Three Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322-01 engines provide the AW101 high-lifting capacity and top speed. Each engine develops a power of 2,270shp and ensures operations at a maximum altitude of 15,000ft.

AW139M

The AW139M from Leonardo is a new generation twin-turbine military helicopter, offering one of the best-in-class speed of 306km/h. It can transport up to ten fully equipped soldiers or 15 passengers at very high speeds.

The AW139M was introduced at the AFA Air Warfare Symposium in February 2011 for US Air Force’s Common Vertical Lift Support Programme (CVLSP). It integrates Electro-Optic (EO) / infrared (IR) System, Defensive Aids Suite (DAS), and an external stores system for a range of weapon systems.

The Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67C turbines driving a state-of-the-art five-bladed main rotor deliver a higher speed even in demanding situations, including ‘hot and high’, and allow operations at altitudes up to 6,096m (20,000ft). The robust main and nose landing gears of the helicopter ensure operations from unprepared land surfaces.

NH90

The NH90 is a medium-lift, multi-role military helicopter designed to meet the requirements of Nato members. The helicopter’s impressive cruise speed of 300km/h makes it one of the fastest military helicopters in the world.

The NH90 helicopter is produced by NHIndustries in Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) and Naval Frigate Helicopter (NFH) versions. It is primarily operated by the armed forces of Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands. The first NH90s were handed over to the German Army in 2006.

The power-plant of the NH90 includes either two RTM322-01/9 or two GE T700/T6E1 2,000kW class engines equipped with dual-channel Full Authority Digital Electronic Control (FADEC) system. The high-performance engine enables the helicopter to reach a maximum altitude of 3,200m (10,500ft) at a rate of climb of 2,200ft/min.

Ka-52 Alligator

The Ka-52 Alligator has the ability to fly at a maximum speed of 300km/h and was developed by Kamov Design Bureau to meet the demands of reconnaissance and combat missions for the Russian Air Force.

The Ka-52K, a naval version of Ka-52, was also developed for the Russian Navy. The helicopter features advanced flight characteristics offering high manoeuvrability in confined spaces.

The Ka-52 Alligator is powered by two VK-2500 turbo-shaft engines, which deliver 2,400hp each allowing the helicopter to fly at altitudes exceeding 5,000m (16,404ft). The helicopter can take-off and land in hot and high conditions, as well as in extremely cold and icy environments.

Mi-28N Night Hunter

The Mi-28N ‘Night Hunter’ (Export designation: Mi-28NE) is an attack helicopter developed by Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant. The helicopter can attain a maximum speed of 300km/h competing closely with the NH90 and Ka-52 Alligator helicopters, which offer the same speed.

The production of Mi-28N commenced at Rosvertol’s aviation plant in 2005. The first serial production helicopter was handed over to the Russian Air Force in mid-2006. The Mi-28N helicopter is also in service with the air forces of Algeria, Iraq and Kenya.

The two VK-2500 engines fitted to the helicopter develop a take-off power of 2,200hp each. The twin-engine power plant enables the Mi-28N to operate at an altitude of 5,600m with a normal take-off weight of 10,900kg.

Mi-26 Halo

The Mi-26 (Nato reporting name: Halo) is a heavy transport helicopter produced by Rosvertol’s aviation plant in Russia. The helicopter has a maximum speed of 295km/h, which makes it the world’s fastest heavy-lift military transport helicopter.

The Mi-26 made its first flight in December 1977. The helicopter is used primarily by the air forces of Russia, India and Ukraine, and can transport up to 82 fully equipped troops or up to 20t of cargo.

The helicopter is equipped with two D-136 turbo-shaft engines, which generate 11,400hp each. It achieves a maximum flight range of 800km with main fuel tanks and can fly at a maximum altitude of 4,600m (15,091ft).

AW149

The AW149 is a multi-role, medium-lift military helicopter produced by Leonardo. Designed to fly at a maximum cruise speed of 287km/h, the rotorcraft offers lower lifecycle costs and superior performance in all weather conditions.

Leonardo received orders for AW149 from the Royal Thai Army and Egyptian Navy. Powered by two General Electric CT7-2E1 turboshaft engines, the AW149 has a maximum gross weight of 8,300kg and can carry up to 19 troops or 16 equipped troops.

The helicopter supports troop transport, medical and casualty evacuation, search-and-rescue (SAR), command and control, Special Forces operations, close air support, armed escort, and ISR missions.

AH-64D Apache

The AH-64 Apache, considered as one of the most advanced multi-mission combat helicopters, is also one of the fastest military helicopters in the world. It can attain a maximum speed of 284km/h in hot climates.

The US Army took delivery of the first Apache Longbow (radar-equipped AH-64D) in 1997 and currently operates more than 800 AH-64s. The Apaches are also in service with the armed forces of Egypt, Greece, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Netherlands, UAE, and the UK.

The AH-64D is powered by two General Electric T700-701C turbo-shaft engines developing a maximum power output of 1,890shp each. The high-performance engines ensure the helicopter to reach a maximum altitude of 15,895ft (4,845m) at a rate of climb of 2,915ft/m.

AW109 LUH

A maximum flying speed of 282km/h makes the AW109 Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) one of the world’s fastest military helicopters. The multi-mission capabilities of the AW109 LUH also make it one of the best-selling military helicopters in its class.

The AW109 LUH is operated by the armed forces of South Africa, Sweden, New Zealand, and Malaysia. It is equipped with sophisticated sensors, state-of-the-art avionics, and redundant systems for optimum safety and survivability.

The power-plant includes two Turbomeca Arrius 2K2 engines that deliver a maximum continuous power of 454kW (609shp) each, ensuring a rate of climb of 8.33m/s to reach an altitude of 20,000ft. The maximum range of the helicopter is 926km.

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