Top 10 Biggest (Military) Helicopters in the World

When it comes to helicopters, there are few people who aren’t at least a little curious about them. Helicopters have been around for a very long time, yet there are still many people who have never flown in one. Helicopters can also come in various sizes, and if you’re like most people, the bigger they are, the more exciting they are.

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About Big Helicopters

Whether you’ve flown in a helicopter or not, these are a type of aircraft that are an enigma to most people. Helicopters are not only very reliable, but also very important to hospitals, police organizations, the navy, and of course, the military.

Military helicopters are especially interesting because there are so many types and sizes of them, and learning about them is easier than you think.

Most military helicopters are used to carrying personnel or equipment to and from various locations, which is why they are made so large. They are built sturdy and meant to last a very long time, and you’d likely be surprised by how long many of them have been in existence. 

When you read about a helicopter being large, that could mean several things. Some helicopters are big in size, while others are big in payload capacity.

Still others are big when it comes to their function or use, but if you’re curious about large-sized helicopters and those that can carry a lot of different equipment and military personnel, this is the article for you.

The Biggest Helicopters in the World

1. CH-53K King Stallion (USA)

Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion
Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion

The King Stallion is an upgrade of the CH-53E Super Stallion, which at one point was the biggest and most powerful helicopter outside of Russia.

These days, the CH-53K King Stallion is the biggest and heaviest helicopter used by the military, and it was originally developed to meet the needs of the U.S. Marine Corps. It has a payload capacity of just under 16 tons and can carry 37 troops comfortably.

Designed to deliver vehicles, supplies, and troops from ships to the shoreline, the King Stallion is also able to carry heavy weapons, various vehicle types, an LAV-25 armored vehicle, and around 55 soldiers if centerline seats are installed. The Navy even uses some of them to resupply shipboards.

2. V-22 Osprey (USA)

Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey ready for transport
Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey ready for transport

This large helicopter is used by the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, and it combines the speed of a fixed-wing turboprop plane with the vertical lift capabilities of a standard helicopter.

In this sense, it is more of a tiltrotor than it is an actual helicopter, although it is used for many of the same purposes as helicopters are.

The Osprey can accommodate 24 troops and more than 19,800 lbs. internally, as well as nearly 15,000 lbs. externally. Compared to most utility helicopters, this aircraft can fly at twice the speed.

One of the most interesting characteristics of the Osprey is that it can refuel in the air, and it can even land on ships, rough terrain, and so on. 

3. EC 725 (France)

Eurocopter EC 725 Caracal
Eurocopter EC 725 Caracal

Also known as the Super Cougar, the EC 725 was specifically designed to enhance French search-and-rescue missions. It made its maiden flight in 2000 and was first delivered to the French Air Force in 2005.

The EC 725 has an internal payload of roughly 12,500 lbs. and an external payload of more than 9,900 lbs. It can also be used to evacuate casualties and to transport cargo and troops.

If needed, the EC 725 can be fitted with armor plating to function in combat. It is capable of carrying 28 troops and is considered a long-range tactical transport helicopter.

It is also being used by countries such as Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, and Malaysia, among others, and it was made by Eurocopter, which is now called Airbus Helicopters.

4. AW-101 (Italy/United Kingdom)

AgustaWestland AW101
AgustaWestland AW101

Made jointly by companies in Italy and the United Kingdom, the AW-101 comes in several versions, including anti-submarine warfare and utility versions. It has also been exported to countries such as Canada, Portugal, and Saudi Arabia, and some of those countries call it the Merlin.

This helicopter can carry 26 soldiers and has a payload capacity of up to 11,000 lbs. 

Interestingly, the cargo carried by this helicopter can be carried either under slung or internally, and there is a United Kingdom version that can accommodate up to 45 troops and an internal payload of more than 13,200 lbs. It was designed and developed as a modern naval utility helicopter. The AW-101 was previously called the Eurocopter Industries EH101.

5. NH90 (Netherlands/France/Italy/Germany)

NH90 TTH
NH90 TTH

Originally, there were two versions of the NH90. The different versions are known as the NH90 NFH (NATO Frigate helicopter) and the NH90 TTH (tactical transport helicopter).

They were used for both anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare roles, and for assault transport, electronic warfare, rescue, and VIP transport duties.

One of these versions is capable of carrying 20 troops and an external payload of more than 9,250 lbs., as well as an internal payload of up to 11,000 lbs. of cargo.

The NH90 is now being shipped to countries such as New Zealand, Belgium, Sweden, Australia, and Norway, as well as others, and it has been around since the mid-1980s.

6. MIL Mi-26 (Russia)

Mil-Mi-26
Mil-Mi-26

The Mil-Mi-26 helicopter is the largest production helicopter in the world. In the West, it is called the Halo, and it is currently being used by a total of 20 countries, including India and Russia.

With its design phase starting in the 1970s, it finally became operational in 1983 and can carry loads as big as the C-130 can. If configured, its interior can accommodate 80 combat-equipped troops or a total of 60 stretchers.

The most recent version of this large helicopter has been known to carry a total of 150 troops, and it has a payload capacity of more than 55,000 lbs.

With the capability to carry certain loads externally, the Mil-Mi-26 helicopter can even carry two combat vehicles that each weigh over 22,000 lbs. Its cargo area has a length of nearly 40 feet and is almost 11 feet wide, making it quite a big aircraft.

7. CH-47F Chinook (USA)

CH-47 Chinook
CH-47 Chinook

With its maiden flight taking place in 1961, the CH-47F Chinook became fully operational the following year. Nearly 1,200 of these helicopters have been built, and it has been exported to countries all over the world.

The manufacturers of the upgraded Chinook helicopters have plans to stay in operation past the year 2060, mainly being used by the U.S. Army.

The CH-47F Chinook can transport war supplies, troops, and various types of battlefield equipment. It has also been used for parachute drops, medical evacuations, the recovery of aircraft, and many different search-and-rescue missions. As you can see, it is not only a very large aircraft, but a very useful one as well.

8. MIL Mi-38 (Russia)

MIL Mi-38
MIL Mi-38

The Mi-38 helicopter has both civil and military customers, and it can accommodate up to 32 troops. As far as payload capacity goes, the internal payload on the Mi-38 is more than 11,000 lbs., while it can accommodate an external payload of more than 15,000 lbs.

Originally, it was designed to be an upgrade of both the Mi-8 and the Mi-17, but it had so many improvements that a brand-new helicopter was developed in the end.

The Mi-38 has new engines and avionics, as well as a new rotor system and airframe. The Russian military began the use of these helicopters in 2018, and the manufacturer now has plans for many other upgraded versions as well.

9. CAIG Z-18 (China)

CAIG Z-18
CAIG Z-18 – photo by Simon Yang

The largest military helicopter ever adopted by China, the Z-18, will eventually replace the older Z-8 helicopters. With more powerful engines and a redesigned fuselage, the Z-18 has a lot of interior space and has tremendous performance at high temperatures and altitudes.

When the helicopter is being produced, the manufacturer uses titanium and composites to make a very sturdy product.

The Z-18 can accommodate nearly 30 passengers, and it once broke a record by flying around Mt. Everest at an altitude of nearly 30,000 feet. This was the first time that a large helicopter flew that high, and it was certainly no small feat.

It was developed by Changhe Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) and is known in China as the White Heron. It is a fairly new type of military transport helicopter.

10. MIL Mi-8 (Russia)

MIL Mi-8 - Latvian Air Force
MIL Mi-8 – Latvian Air Force

Currently in use in more than 60 countries, the MIL Mi-8 helicopter can accommodate 24 troops and an external payload of more than 6,600 lbs., as well as an internal payload of roughly 8,800 lbs.

Since the early 1960s, over 7,000 examples of the Mi-8 helicopter have been developed. The export version is known as the Mi-17, and there are still many other variants being produced today.

In fact, when it comes to its many variations, this helicopter can accommodate a wide variety of roles. This includes photo-reconnaissance, fuel delivery to the front line, VIP transport, standard reconnaissance, mine-clearing and laying, and artillery fire-correction.

There is even an armed version of the Mi-8 that contains a trainable machine gun, anti-tank guided missiles, bombs, and rockets.

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