Dominating the outside static display is an example of Jordan’s latest helicopter. The mighty Mil Mi-26 ‘Halo’ is the world’s largest helicopter, and the Royal Jordanian Air Force has ordered four of the latest Mi-26T2 version. The first was delivered to the RJAF here at Amman- Marka airport on 17 January this year.
King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau signed the contract on behalf of the armed forces on 17 April 2016. The Mi-26 is built at the Rostvertol plant at Rostov-on-Don, part of the Russian Helicopters company.
In production since 2015, the Mi-26T2 represents a major reworking of the original Mi-26T, and features an all-new BREO-26 digital avionics suite that permits flight operations at night and in adverse weather, with a gyro-stabilised electrooptic sensor, Navstar/GLONASS satellite navigation and five-screen flight deck. The new avionics suite allows the Mi-26T2 to be flown by a crew of just two, instead of the original five, although a third crew member is added if operations are to involve underslung loads.
Powered by two Motor Sich/Ivchenko-Progress D-136-2 turboshafts that can each develop up to 12,500hp (9,325kW) at emergency rating, the Mi-26T2 can lift 82 troops or loads of up to 20 tonnes, carried either internally or as an underslung load. The rear ramp and clamshell doors allow large loads and vehicles to be admitted to the capacious hold. Such capability makes the Mi-26 a versatile tool for both military and civilian/government purposes.
At SOFEX, the Russian giant dwarfs another new helicopter for Jordan, which is displayed alongside. The Robinson R44 Raven II is from the Golden Eagle Aviation Academy, which was established at Amman- Marka in 2015 to provide aaa world-class military rotary-wing training in partnership with the RJAF. Instructors are former RJAF personnel and the academy can provide training in special forces support and other combat roles. The air force itself bought eight R44s equipped with Garmin and Aspen avionics for service with No. 5 Squadron at Mafraq.