The first Mil Mi-26T2 heavy lift helicopter for the Algerian military is being flight tested in Russia. It is the first of up to six believed to have been ordered by the North African country.
The helicopter was seen performing its maiden flight from Rostvertol’s factory in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, on December 25. It appears to be the first of an initial three, with another three planned to be acquired in a second batch.
Russian Helicopters previously flew an Mi-26T to Algeria where it was demonstrated to the Algerian Air Force. The modernised Mi-26T2 features a night vision compatible glass cockpit and improved avionics and can lift 20 tons of payload.
The helicopters form part of a $2.7 billion weapons contract with Russia, announced in February 2014. The contract includes 42 Mi-28N Night Hunter attack helicopters and modernisation of 39 of the Algerian Air Force’s Mi-171Sh (Mi-8AMTSh) helicopters. They will be modified at the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant and will receive upgraded armament.
Algeria has long expressed interest in acquiring new Russian helicopters, contemplating an order for 42 Mi-28s as early as mid-2010. In 2011 Rostvertol (a division of Russian Helicopters) said a commercial proposal had been sent to Algeria and that the company had hoped to sign a contract for delivery in 2012-2017.
The Algerian Air Force has ordered numerous helicopters in recent years, including two AW101s for VIP transport, six AW101s for the Algerian Navy, ten AW109 Light Utility Helicopters for its police force, 15 AW109s for the Gendarmerie and five AW139s for the country’s Protection Civile.
At the moment the Algerian Air Force flies approximately 30 Mi-24-III Super Hinds, 16 AS 355/555s, 3 Bell 412s, 10 Super Lynx, three Ka-32s, 28 Mi-2s and 102 Mi-8/17/171s. Several older Mi-6 and Mi-4 helicopters may also be in service.