In the modern times, anything that can go fast, impresses people twice as fast, because speed matters, a lot. With the technology growing ever so fast, helicopters have become faster and more lethal. The primary asset of a helicopter is that it can be used in congested or isolated areas where fixed-wing aircraft and many forms of VTOL (vertical take off and landing) aircraft cannot perform. I have always liked helicopters better than any other flying aircraft because they have a swagger about them and also the term “chopper” is notorious in its own sense. People think that, helicopters? Oh they’re not fast enough. Well, let me assure you, by the time you’re finished reading this, you’d be very much surprised how fast these modern helicopters can fly. So let’s take a sneak peek into the fastest helicopters of the world.
15. Agusta Westland AW139
Number 15 on the list is Agusta Westland AW139. It’s an average sized helicopter with twin turbine. This new generation helicopter is produced by the Agusta Westland. The helicopter is equipped with 2 turboshaft engines (Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67C) which create a power of 1250 kW each with the help of which it achieves its maximum possible speed of 306kmh (165kn, 190mph). It can fly with its maximum speed with 10 entirely equipped soldiers or the 15 normal passengers. This helicopter became one of the most dominant products of Agusta Westland in 2003.
14. Mi 35M
With an impressive highest speed of 310kmh (167kn, 192mph) comes the Mi 35M. A combat transport helicopter with anti-tank and assault capabilities, the Mi-35M is a variant of the older Mi-24 gunship featuring a modified airframe with fixed landing gear and cropped wings as well as the X-shaped tail rotor of the Mi-28N. It is equipped with two engines generating the power of 2,200kw and helps the helicopter to fly over 17,000 feet with the 460km fuel capacity.
13. AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat
The AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat (previously called the Future Lynx and Lynx Wildcat) is an improved version of the Westland Super Lynx military helicopter designed to serve in the battlefield utility, search and rescue and anti-surface warfare roles. It is the first helicopter by AgustaWestland to be designed inside an entirely digital environment. Supplied with 2 LHTEC CTS800-4N turboengines each rated at 1362hp which allows it to reach its highest speed of 311kmh (167kn, 193mph). It seems too good to be put on number 13 but trust me, there’s a lot more to come.
12. Agusta Westland AW189
Next up on the list is The AW189, the biggest of the AgustaWestland family of commercial helicopters. Powered by two turboshaft General Electric, GE CT7-2E1 with FADEC engines, it attains a maximum speed of 313kmh (169kn, 194.4mph) and maximum range in excess of 1,200km. Its cockpit incorporates an advanced, open-architecture avionics suite. The AW189 is designed for multiple roles, including offshore transport, passenger transport, search and rescue and parapublic missions.
11. Eurocopter Tiger
The Eurocopter Tiger is an attack helicopter manufactured by Eurocopter. The Eurocopter Tiger was co-developed by France and Germany. In Germany it is known as the Tiger; in France and Spain it is called the Tigre. The Tiger is powered by two MTU Turbomeca Rolls-Royce MTR390 turboshaft engines which generate a power of 1171hp each with the help of which this combat specialist helicopter can reach a maximum speed of 315kmh (170kn, 195.7mph).
10. CH-47 Chinook
This heavy-lift transport Helicopter known as CH-47 is number 10 on our list. The Chinook is powered by two Honeywell T55-GA-714A turboshaft engines with FADEC. The engines are rated at 4,733shp (each) which helps it to reach maximum speed of 315kmh (170kn, 196 mph). The Chinook isn’t just the heaviest lifting helicopter but also the most reliable and efficient transport helicopter in the world, capable of handling loads of up to 25,000 pounds.
9. MI-28H Havoc (Russia)
The Mil Mi-28 (NATO reporting name ‘Havoc’) is a Russian all-weather, day-night, military tandem, two-seat anti-armour attack helicopter. Powered by 2 Klimov-brand turboshaft engines which generate 2,200hp each, it can go as fast as 320kmh (172.7kn, 198.8mph). With the heavy armature it has, it can prove to be a nightmare for any country’s defence.
8. AIRBUS H225 (EC225)
The H225 (formerly EC225) is a powerful and fast 11-ton-class helicopter that combines long-range performance with a very large cabin – accommodating up to 19 passengers in cash worthy seats. It has 2 Turbomeca Makila 2A turboengines, a robust five-bladed main rotor and Spheriflex rotor head which helps it to travel up to 324kmh (174.9kn, 201.3mph).
7. KA-52 Alligator
The Kamov Ka-52 Alligator (NATO designation Hokum-B) is a two-seat version of the Ka-50 and is a combat helicopter developed by Kamov. It is a multi-role all-weather attack helicopter, capable of operating in daytime and at night. Powered by two VK-2500 turbo-shaft engines (2,400hp each) allows the helicopter to fly at altitudes over 5,000m (16,404ft) and fly at a maximum speed of 390kmh (210.5kn, 242.3mph). It can take-off and land in hot and high conditions as well as in extremely cold and icy conditions.
6. Mil Mi-24 Hind
Powered by 2 Klimov TV3-117 turboshaft engines (2200hp each) driving a five-blade main rotor and a three blade tail rotor, Mil Mi-24 Hind can go up to 335kmh (208mph, 181kts), the Mil Mi-24 Hind is an attack helicopter and low-capacity troop transport with room for eight passengers. It is produced by Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant and has been operated since 1972 by the Soviet Air Force. Russia’s Mi-24 HIND multi-mission gunship is a different class because it provides heavy armature, transport facility and can fly really fast.
5. AH-1Z Viper
The Bell AH-1Z Viper is the ultimate attacking helicopter. It is a twin-engine attack helicopter based on the AH-1W SuperCobra which was developed for the United States Marine Corps. Featuring a four-blade, bearingless, composite main rotor system, uprated transmission, and a new target sighting system, this beast can go up to 411kmh (221.9kn, 255.3mph) with the help of the 2 Generic electric T700-GE-401C turboengines which develop 1800hp each. Being a part of the H-1 upgrade program it’s also called “Zulu Cobra” in reference to its variant letter.
4. Sikorsky S-69 (XH-59A)
The Sikorsky Aircraft’s S-69, also known by the military designation XH-59 is loaded with 2 P&WA PT-6T-3 engines to power the rotors and 2 J-60-P-3A engines and their North American Saberliner pods used for auxiliary propulsion, which helps it to reach a maximum speed of 441kmh (238.1kn, 274mph). The S-69 was an experimental co-axial compound helicopter developed to demonstrate the Advancing blade concept (ABC) under US Army and NASA funding.
3. Sikorsky S-97
So we’re in the top 3 now and sitting proudly at 3rd is the Sikorsky S-97 Raider. It is a proposed high-speed scout and attack compound helicopter based on the Advancing Blade Concept (ABC) under development by Sikorsky Aircraft. It has a generic electric T700 turboshaft engine driving 2 four bladed coaxial main rotors and a six bladed tail rotor in pusher configuration. With a whooping maximum speed of 444kmh (276mph, 240knots), the Sikosky S-97 is as fast as it gets.
2. Sirosky X2
The Sikorsky X2 is an experimental high-speed compound helicopter with coaxial rotors. Sikorsky developed the X2 helicopter on a $50 million budget. The S-69/XH-59A Advancing Blade Concept Demonstrator had shown that high speed was possible with a coaxial helicopter with auxiliary propulsion, but that vibration was excessive. This was rectified in X2 which is power packed by LHTEC T800-LHT-801 turboshaft with 1300-1800 shp which produces 1000-1340kW power. It has six bladed pusher-type propeller with 2 four bladed co-axial rotors allowing the X2 to get to a maximum speed of 463kmh (250kn, 287.6mph). It made an unofficial record for the fastest helicopter of the world by reaching that maximum speed in 2010.
1. Eurocopter X3
Eurocopter X3 is the world’s fastest helicopter and achieved the highest speed of 472kmh (293mph, 255kn) slightly faster than the 250-knot top speed achieved by the Sikorsky X2 compound helicopter in 2010. Eurocopter X3 is also known as the long range high speed hybrid helicopter. The X3 has two RTM 322 turboshaft engines to power a five-blade main rotor system with two propellers installed on short-span fixed wings.
Albeit advancement in the field of high speed compound helicopters is fast growing, it is very difficult for helicopter designers to increase the maximum speed of a helicopter as many factors are beyond their control. Much research and development has occurred in areas such as reducing drag, better rotor blade designs and increasing available engine power. The normal cruising speed of a helicopter varies on the amount of power available and its rotor system. With companies like Sikorsky itching to get on top, it’s fair to say that helicopters are also going to get faster and more furious in the near future.