In late September, the Eastern Military District of the Russian Armed Forces received a new batch of Mi-8 AMTSH (Terminator) helicopters to be based at an airbase located in Zabaykalsky region. With inspections and test flights carried out, more Terminators are entering service with the Army aviation.
The Mi-8AMTSh is a medium twin-turbine military transport helicopter, which can also be used as an airborne command post, armed gunship, reconnaissance platform and search and rescue aircraft. The chopper can engage enemy infantry, armored vehicles and even main battle tanks. It also boasts air-to-air capability against low-flying aircraft, helicopters, and UAVs. The rotary wing aircraft is built using composite materials. It features five-blade main rotors and a three-blade tail rotor. Its tri-cycle landing gear enables safe landing on difficult terrains.
The Mi-8 AMTSH has a maximum takeoff weight of 13 tons, a maximum speed of 250 km/h (155 mph), a cruising speed of 230 km/h (143 mph), and a range of 610 kilometers (379 miles). The 5.34m-long cargo cabin with an effective area of 12.5m² can house payloads of 4 tons, whereas the external payload capability is 4 tons. The rotorcraft can carry 36 troops in full combat gear. Crew: 3. Ceiling: 4,500 m (14,764 ft). Maximum range: 1,300 km (648 nmi) with four additional fuel tanks.
The aircraft has a total of 12 hardpoints for various types of weapons. A sighting system is located under the nose. The armament suite includes Shturm-V (AT-6) or Ataka-V (AT-9) anti-tank missiles and two 7.62 mm machine guns. It can also carry Igla-V (SA-18) air-to-air missiles.
Cargo area can be easily transformed for medical evacuation role. In this role helicopter can carry 12 stretchers and one medical attendant.
The helicopter's composite armor plating offers high protection for cockpit and cabin. The on-board protection systems provide automatic threat detection and defence against electromagnetic interference. The Vitebsk onboard electronic jammer ensures protection against surface-to-air missiles with radar and optical (thermal) homing warheads by generating optical and radio-electronic interference. It can also sidetrack heat-seeking missiles by creating an electronic canopy around the helicopter and blinding oncoming missiles with a laser beam.
The Terminator is adapted for the use of night vision goggles, which allows carrying out low-level and nap-of-the-earth night flights, as well as taking off from and landing on unmarked sites. The helicopter’s radar provides warning on dangerous weather conditions in both horizontal and vertical profiles, scans the ground area, and identifies objects. The Mi-8AMTSh-VA is kitted out with airspace observation systems to warn of other aircraft in low visibility conditions and search directional radio that operates on all emergency frequencies, and which can be used in search and rescue operations.
A range of navigation systems – duplicate satellite systems, digital avionics enhanced with built-in map generation and strapdown inertial reference systems – enable the aircraft to identify its current coordinates in the event that satellite signal is lost. A specialized communications suite ensures reliable, uninterrupted radio links over a wide range of frequencies.
The Mi-8AMTSH features an auxiliary electric generator, an ice-protection system and ski landing gear for landing on soft snow and swamps.
The helicopter is powered by two VK-2500-03 turboshaft engines; each of them has 1,750 shp (1,287 kW) maximum continuous performance and a 2,400 shp (1,764 kW) take-off performance. It also boasts a TA-14 auxiliary power unit delivering improved thrust and power output meeting the needs of the helicopter’s energy-intensive on-board systems. The helicopter's operating capability is further improved with oil and fuel systems and Teflon hydraulic flight control hose.
The crews are trained for special operations missions, which include flying nap of the earth in foul weather, and in terrain-following mode at night, and attacking the enemy while remaining invisible to him. They also learn tactical maneuvers enabling them to dupe the enemy and landing special operators behind the enemy’s lines.
Special helicopter squadrons are to be activated in each of the military districts to infiltrate and evacuate commandos and provide close air support for them.
The aircraft has a version specifically designed to operate in the Arctic. It has already been delivered to the Russian military. The Mi-8 AMTSH-VA is equipped with special covers to improve the efficiency of the systems responsible for heating the main components in temperatures lower than -40°С. The version is fitted with equipment enabling it to operate in low temperatures, where orientation is difficult, polar night, without satellite signal, where radio links are unreliable, over great expanses of water, and a long way from base.
The Mi-8 AMTSH took part in Zapad-2017 Russian-Belarusian exercise in September. The Terminators are part of the Russian military operation in Syria. In September, Mi-8 AMTSH helicopters did a great job breaking terrorists' siege of Deir ez Zor city. They were patrolling the desert round the clock, striking Islamic State forces, especially vehicles with mounted heavy machine guns or rocket launchers. As a result, the terrorists were forced to defend themselves in fixed positions to be hit by artillery, bombers and cruise missiles from ships. On September 4, the helicopters helped to repel a powerful counter-attack by the militants on the outskirts of Deir ez-Zor. The helicopters will be used as working horses to carry out a range of missions in the de-escalation zones established in Syria.