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Ultra-Heavy-Lift Helicopter (UHLH)

The Mil Design Bureau was the primary developer of Soviei heavy-lift beltcopters. In 1990 the Central Intelligence Agency assessed that the Soviets were developing an Ultra-Heavy-Lift Helicopter (UHLH) that would will further extend their lead over tbe United States in heavy-lift helicopter load capacity. In retrospect, no such program seems to have existed.

Tbe first evidence that the Soviets had a requirement for an Ultra-Heavy-Lift Helicopter became available in 1982 at a Western air show. The Soviet Deputy Minister of Aviation made statements about ongoing UHLH research at the Soviet Central Aerohydrodynarnics Institute (TsAGI). Tbe Soviets were reported to be actively seeking commercial markets for the UHLH. CIA stated that it believed the new UHLH would be configured in a tandem-rotor configuration like the American CH-47 Chinook and will use existing Mi-26 components. At that time, CIA believed the Sovicu would conduct full-scale flight tests of the UHLH helicopter by the mid-1990s. The UHLH was assessed as being within the Soviet's technical capability, and based oo their vast experience in heavy lift helicopters, could enter limited production in the late 1990s.

The UHLH could reduce the Soviets' dependence on rail and roadway networks for cargo beyond tbe Mi-26's capability. Reportedly, one requirement for tbe UHLH was to support the construction of Siberian power planis and reactors. It also could be used to transport large missiles or missile components to remote areas within the USSR. For military purposes, the UHLH could ferry all surface combat vehicles, including tanks. However, its size and speed make it vulnerable to attack while airborne. CIA believed the military role of the UHLH outside the USSR would be limited.

The need for vertically lifting heavy or bulky loads and transporting them over long distances has far outgrown conventional devices whereby these loads may be raised from the ground, placed on vehicles, and moved to new sites. This is particularly true where lack of roads makes such operations very difficult or very expensive; for example, removing trees from forests to bring them to a logging site or to a sawmill. Other important uses include hauling cargo between ship and shore, moving large structures such as bridge segments, and transporting houses and other buildings, manufactured in factories, to specific sites.

One main advantage that has enhanced the utility of helicopters has been the ability to lift significant loads to extraordinary heights, and does so with the use of various hoisting means that can initially raise the load from the ground, before the helicopter undertakes some movement to the desired location for reimplacement of its carried load.

Helicopters have been found particularly useful in transporting suspended, heavy loads and placing such loads in desired locations. Generally, such heavy lift capacity helicopters are provided with a lift cable which extends from beneath the belly portion of the fuselage for connection to a load. Helicopters have been found particularly advantageous in the erection of bulky and heavy steel transmission towers.

While hoists have become significantly important in both military and commercial application, there are certain deficienies in the conventional mechanisms that render the usage of structured hoists somewhat deficient, and in many instances, even hazardous in certain applications. For example, most of the hoisting means include a winch having a single cable pay-out. The cable release is achieved by means of a supporting drum, which automatically translates a slight shifting momentum to the load itself, in many instances even before it is raised off the ground or other supporting structure. As a result, there is a tendency for the load being lifted by the helicopter to sway upon its release of contact with the ground. This can be extremely hazardous to surrounding workers or property.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 15:50:32 ZULU