TechRussian investigation into illicit aircraft sales to Ukraine launches: Dozens of Il-76 planes and Mi-8 helicopters involved

Russian investigation into illicit aircraft sales to Ukraine launches: Dozens of Il‑76 planes and Mi‑8 helicopters involved

Russian Mi-8
Russian Mi-8
Images source: ©, Lic. CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

12:58 PM EST, February 12, 2024

As per Russian sources, the Federal Security Service of Russia has conducted an investigation resulting in two criminal cases, both regarding the transportation of 59 aircraft (both Il-76 planes and Mi-8 helicopters) from Russia to other countries from March 2022 through to June 2023. During the current proceedings, as of February 7, the offices of high-ranking Rosaviation employees were searched, and the FSB obtained objects and documents that indicated illegal activities.

Problems arising with Russian aircraft

According to the military service, three retired Mi-8 helicopters are believed by the FSB to have ended up in Ukraine and were later used by the Ukrainians in attacks against the Russian army. The Russians also suspect the leftover aircraft, primarily Il-76 transport planes, to have been transferred to countries deemed "hostile" by the Kremlin. It's alleged that some of these aircraft, which originated from Western countries, were used to transport military aid for Ukraine.

Mi-8 and Il-76: Aircraft used by Ukrainians

The Mi-8 (NATO code Hip), and its export version, the Mi-17, are among the most popular helicopters in the world. The design bureau of Mikhail Mil developed the model and has been manufactured ever since the 1960s at the Moscow Helicopter Plant, the Kazan Helicopter Plant, and the Ulan-Ude Aircraft Plant. These machines serve primarily to transport both soldiers and civilians. They can carry around 30 soldiers, 12 stretcher patients, or 8,818.5 pounds of cargo internally. Alternatively, they can carry 11,023.1 pounds of cargo externally.

Innumerable adaptations of this vehicle have been produced. Mi-8s are used worldwide for VIP transport, casualty transportation, fuel transportation, agricultural tasks, and mine deployment and clearance tasks. Some versions are even equipped with weaponry, including 7.62 mm and 12.7 mm machine guns.

This potent helicopter can also carry anti-tank missiles such as the 9M17P Scorpion, Igla-V air-to-air missiles, and various types of bombs. The Mi-8 boasts a top speed of 155.3 miles per hour and a maximum altitude of 14,763 feet. Ukrainians frequently use it to test its minimum altitude, flying the aircraft close to the ground, which reduces its chance of enemy radar detection.

The Ilyushin Il-76 (NATO code: Candid) is a 4-engine jet transport plane that's been in production since 1974. Measuring almost 154.2 feet in length, approximately 49.2 feet in height, and having a wingspan of over 164 feet, it's classified as one of the largest planes in the world. The plane was designed to transport heavy machinery and vehicles across great distances.

Military Today specifies that the Il-76 can carry payloads weighing up to 110,231.1 pounds within a cargo space of 8,179.740 cubic feet. Exceptionally, this plane can take off from short and unprepared runways and is also designed to operate under extreme weather conditions. The service further mentions that as of 2021, Russia had about 112 such planes in operation. The exact number of surviving planes is unknown. However, it's certain that the number of Il-76 planes in the Russian fleet is reducing. Recently, one such plane was shot down in the Belgorod region.

Related content