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The Mi-38 helicopter is a new generation of the legendary Mi-8

The Mi-38 is a new multi-purpose medium lift helicopter. It is being proposed as a replacement for the ageing aged Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters. Though these ageing machines served excellently and over 15 000 of them have been produced. The Mi-38 can be seen as a new generation of Mi-8.

In the early development stages the Mi-38 helicopter was seen as a deep modernization of the Mi-8. However the helicopter appeared a totally new design, due to absolutely new airframe, modern Thales avionics suite and Pratt and Whitney engines. However due to sanctions imposed on Russia a modified Mi-38T version was created, which used Russian engines and avionics.

The Mi-38 has fiber glass blades and X-shaped balance rear rotor. The frame is made entirely from composite materials. Rotor system of the Mi-38 have been tested on Mi-8 helicopters and appeared extremely effective. It increased payload capacity by additional 1 000 kg over the Mi-8. The new helicopter has more lifting power. The Mi-38 helicopter made its maiden flight in 2003. First test flights were conducted at Kazan helicopter facility.

The Mi-38 was publicly revealed in 2011 at Russian MAKS air show, where it conducted demonstrational flight. This helicopter is being offered both to military and civil customers. In 2017 Russian MoD awarded a first contract for a two helicopters. This small-scale production commenced during the same year. It is planned that the first helicopter will be delivered in 2018, and the second will follow in 2019. In 2018 it was announced that series production of the Mi-38 began. Russian military planned to obtained about 15 of these helicopters for delivery until 2020.

The Mi-38 is operated by a crew of two. For cargo transportation missions it can be flown by a single pilot. The second pilot is required only for passenger transportation. The cabin can be configured to transport cargo, passengers, or both. It can carry 32 passengers or 16 stretchers. This helicopter can carry 5 000 kg of cargo internally or 7 000 kg externally. So the Mi-38 significantly exceeds the Mi-8 in its performance and capabilities.

This helicopter can operate in various climatic conditions, ranging from -60° to +50°C.

It is planned that various versions of the Mi-38 will be designed for different missions. Equipment may be fitted for emergency landing on water. Also it can be adopted as an ambulance, or VIP transport.

Mi-38T is a dedicated transport and utility version of the Mi-38. It was developed to meet requirements of the Russian MoD. Due to the sanctions imposed on Russia a modified helicopter with indigenous components was required. The new Mi-38T has some differences from the early Mi-38. All of its components, including engines and avionics, are made in Russia. It is powered by a pair of Klimov TV7-117V turboshaft engines, developing 2 800 shp each.

These are more powerful than Canadian Pratt & Whitney 127T/S engines with 2 500 shp each. So specifications of the Mi-38T are slightly different. This helicopter can carry up to 40 passengers, or internal payload of 6 000 kg. Alternatively it can carry up to 5 000 kg externally. The Mi-38T was tested in 2018 and made its first flight during the same year. Russian MoD planned to purchase a small batch of 15 Mi-38T helicopters for delivery in 2020. So the Mi-38T should become the definitive version of the Mi-38.