23 of the Best Military Cargo Helicopters in the World

Millitary cargo helicopters
Photo by sjr4x4

As the most significant military force globally, the United States Department of Defense has many essential tasks to perform. Tasks such as logistics, combat, and more.

To get their homework done, they use these military cargo helicopters. It helps the military get the job done, no matter how difficult the assignment. 

These military cargo helicopters will make sure you always arrive at your destination whether carrying supplies, engaging in battle, or performing search and rescue missions.

They will get there on time and ready to complete your task. Please take a look at our list below!

List of Military Cargo Helicopters

1. CH-47 Chinook

First on our list of cargo military helicopters is the CH-47 Chinook. It can carry multiple troops and heavy artillery. For decades, Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook has been a go-to helicopter for military and humanitarian operations.

Also, they possess an impressive range of 3,100 miles without refueling.  These military cargo helicopters can carry up to 38,000 pounds of cargo across vast distances. Today it is used by militaries worldwide, including in Canada and Israel.

2. UH-60 Black Hawk

The Sikorsky aircraft manufactured the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk. This is a four-bladed, twin-engine, medium-lift utility helicopter.

Sikorsky submitted the S-70 design for the United States Army’s Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System (UTTAS) competition in 1972. 

Also, the Army designated the prototype as the YUH-60A and selected it for production in 1974. This was after a competitive fly-off against Boeing’s YUH-61A.

It was named after American Civil War General Samuel Davis Stivers, Jr. It was first flown on October 14, 1975.

The deliveries of production helicopters began in March 1978 to operational test and evaluation units. Production deliveries were to follow, with UTTAS scheduled for completion by 1980.

3. CH-53E Super Stallion

In terms of sheer size, nothing beats a CH-53E Super Stallion. This massive cargo helicopter has been featured in films and video games, and it’s easy to see why. There aren’t many other aircraft that can carry a whole tank in their cargo bay. 

Seven different militaries around the world use the Super Stallion. It’s been designated as an International Common Aircraft (ICA) by NATO.

As its name suggests, it excels at carrying heavy loads and moving people around. Its capacity ranges from 28 soldiers to 19,000 pounds of cargo. 

If you need something delivered across the water, you can count on one of these military cargo helicopters.

4. H-6/Y-8/Il-76 Transport Planes

Widely used in military operations, Y-8s can carry up to 50 tons of cargo. The H-6 is a smaller aircraft with a payload capacity of 15 tons. China and Russia fly both aircraft.

Il-76s are military cargo helicopters that can carry up to 150 tons of goods (the most extensive load capacity). This makes them perfect for missions like transporting heavy artillery or trucks

The downside? Il-76s aren’t very mobile, so they’re sometimes less flexible than helicopters or C-130s. However, their massive size makes them ideal for some jobs.

5. MV-22 Osprey

The MV-22 Osprey is an aircraft with dual rotors and no tail rotor. The aircraft can take off vertically like a helicopter. It converts to being able to fly at high speeds like a fixed-wing plane. 

Marines first used Ospreys in combat during Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and New Dawn. This gives pilots increased capabilities and flexibility in flight operations.

6. RQ-7 Shadow

AAI Corporation developed it with help from two other companies. It has a hand-launched uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) for battlefield surveillance. Afghanistan and Iraq extensively used the RQ-7. It is now rapidly being replaced by new drones.

However, it’s still used for training purposes. It has a range of nearly 40 miles. It was one of those military cargo helicopters that could fly up to 10,000 feet at altitudes.

7. SA330 Puma

Euro copter manufactures the SA330 Puma. It is a medium-weight, twin-engine utility helicopter. It is used by over 30 nations and in military roles, where it was given designations H-2 and H-3. 

However, NATO operates it as some of the standard military cargo helicopters. These variants can also act as gunships with pintle mounts for light weapons. Many are equipped to perform search and rescue missions.

 The French Air Force uses an electronic surveillance version of the Puma, named Scénichelonneur. They use it to gather electronic signals from mobile units on the tactical ground or naval missions. The French Army uses a modified version of it called AS332 Super Puma.

8. EH101 Merlin

The AgustaWestland Merlin is a three-engine medium-size utility helicopter developed by a joint venture between Italy’s Agusta and Britain’s Westland.

It entered service with both nations’ armed forces in 2004 and exported to Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Portugal, and Poland.

The helicopter has an internal capacity of 12 troops and a maximum external load of 5,000 pounds (2,300 kilograms) which can be split among its four external hook points. A U.S.-built version for special operations is known as MH-60G Pave Hawk; it is used by all branches of American military services, including special operators under Air Force Special Operations Command.

9. Mi-17 and Mi-171 Attack Drones

The Mi-17 and its variants, including several attack drone versions, are Russia’s most successful military exports.

The single-rotor Mi-17 can carry 3.2 tons of cargo, while its twin-rotor variant, capable of carrying an additional ton or two in external pods, boasts a maximum takeoff weight of up to 8 tons.

It also has six weapon pylons and is designed to operate in all climates at altitudes ranging from sea level to 20,000 feet.

10. Bell V – 280 Valor

The Bell V-280 Valor is a tiltrotor military aircraft being developed by Bell Helicopter in cooperation with Lockheed Martin for use by the United States Army as a medium-lift utility helicopter.

The development of a new military tiltrotor aircraft was announced in January 2013.

In June 2016, it was announced that its designation had been changed to V-247.

On November 24, 2017, an unpowered first flight occurred at Fort Worth, Texas; full certification and fielding are planned for 2019 or 2020.

11. Airbus Helicopters H160M

The H160M is part of Airbus’ H160 twin-engine medium-sized utility helicopter family. It is designed for various missions, including personnel transport, medevac, search and rescue (SAR), and homeland security operations.

The H160M can carry up to four stretchers or five seated passengers in a cabin. Its external load capacity measures 4,500 lb.

However, like other Airbus helicopters in its class, it cannot accommodate auxiliary fuel tanks. This is because they would extend outside of their fairings and could interfere with rotor blade function during maneuvers.

12. Boeing CH – 47 Chinook

The Boeing CH-47 Chinook is a twin-engine, tandem rotor heavy-lift helicopter. Its top speed of 170 knots (196 miles per hour, 312 kilometers per hour) makes it one of the fastest helicopters in use today.

The Chinook was designed initially by Boeing Vertol in 1965; its initial designation was Model 234.

It is now produced by Boeing Rotorcraft Systems and has become one of Boeing’s most profitable military aircraft. The United States Army and United States Marine Corps are among many military services that use Chinooks for cargo transport.

What better way to get your products from point A to point B than with an old but reliable workhorse like a Chinook?

13. Mi – 26 Halo

Soviet Union/Russia, twin-engine heavy-lift aircraft. Mi-17 Halo: Soviet Union/Russia, medium-lift and military transport helicopter.

NH 90 NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH): West Germany/Italy, multirole ship-based helicopter for fleet defense, search and rescue, maritime surveillance, and humanitarian aid.

Sikorsky S-92: the United States of America is a wide-range utility helicopter with rear ramp loading capabilities. V-22 Osprey: the United States of America, tiltrotor heavy-lift cargo aircraft used by US Marines.

Other militaries also use the ICH, such as Italy and Australia’s Royal Navy Merlin HC4. The United Kingdom’s naval version of AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin medium-lift helicopter.

14. AgustaWestland AW139M

The AgustaWestland AW139M is a medium-size, twin-engine helicopter primarily designed for military purposes.

The aircraft can be utilized in various operations, including search and rescue (SAR), utility transport, medevac, VIP transport, and homeland security duties.

The AW139M can also be outfitted with various anti-armor weapons to perform combat missions. More than 150 AW139M helicopters have been sold to militaries worldwide.

15. Kamov Ka – 60

The Ka-60 is a twin-engine, coaxial rotor helicopter for personnel and cargo transport. It can be used for search and rescue missions, medevac operations, emergency delivery of humanitarian aid to remote locations, transportation of VIPs to theaters of operation, aerial surveys, and patrol. The Ka-60 has a maximum speed of 300 km/h.

A unique feature of the helicopter is its hybrid control system which allows it to perform functions as both an attack and an assault transport machine.

It carries up to 4 combat troops or stretchers or two stretchers with medical staff, four crew members (pilot, co-pilot/navigator, and two technicians). This helicopter can be accommodated in external side seats facing sideways.

16. Eurocopter AS565 Panther

These twin-engine multipurpose helicopters have become a fixture of military cargo operations.

Widely deployed in Afghanistan, Panther and its predecessor, Super Puma/Cougar, are used to carry soldiers and supplies into remote forward operating bases.

Their versatility is demonstrated by other missions such as search and rescue (SAR), troop transport, external load operations, and special operations support.

The Panther has seen action with militaries around the world. Known operators include Australia, Brazil, Germany, and France.

Eurocopter delivered more than 100 aircraft to 25 countries in 2010 alone. About 20 percent of production from its Marignane facility is earmarked for export sales.

17. V-22 Osprey

Also known as the tiltrotor is a hybrid aircraft that combines the vertical takeoff, hover, and landing with short takeoff and landing.

In cargo configuration, each nacelle can carry 9,000 pounds of gear. The Osprey has been in service since 2007 and has an operating range of more than 500 miles.

Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk: Built by Sikorsky Aircraft, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., owns Pratt & Whitney jet engines, and commercial helicopters are flown commercially around the world.

The Black Hawk first entered service in 1979. When a cockpit upgrade was added in 1996, it was redesignated UH-60L.

18. Airbus H225 M [EC 725]

The Airbus H225 M is a twin-engine medium-sized multirole military helicopter based on Airbus’s civilian Super Puma/Cougar AS565 aircraft, first introduced in 2008.

The H225 M serves European countries and Australia. It has a payload capacity of 7,000 pounds. The H225 M can carry out various missions, including combat search and rescue, firefighting, and special operations support.

This military cargo helicopter has an operational range of 346 miles. However, it can travel up to 485 miles if equipped with additional fuel tanks.

It is powered by two LHTEC T800 turboshaft engines made by Honeywell Aerospace, each providing 1,674 horsepower.

19. Aerospatiale Gazelle

The Aerospatiale Gazelle is one of many helicopters in service with various militaries worldwide. There are two major variants: one for transport and one for combat.

The transport version has a holding capacity of more than 12,000 pounds; its closest competitor can only hold 6,500 pounds.

It’s also significantly more fuel-efficient; with a maximum cruising speed of 120 miles per hour, it can easily cover great distances with minimal downtime.

The combat variant comes equipped with a 20mm Gatling gun to handle multiple targets and two side-mounted automatic grenade launchers to handle small threats from short range.

20. AgustaWestland AW101

The next on our list of military cargo helicopters is the AgustaWestland AW101 or EH101, which is a medium-sized, twin-engine, multi-role utility/helicopter.

It has been produced in both military and civil configurations. The AW101 was designed as a variant of an earlier Italian helicopter model (A 109) by Westland Helicopters in collaboration with Agusta. 

The initial model entered service with Italy’s naval air arm (Marina Militare) in 1989 as their primary anti-surface vessel platform for maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare; it is also used by search and rescue agencies across Europe. In 2011, over 400 were on active duty worldwide—and some production lines remain open today!

21. Sikorsky H – 92 Superhawk

The Sikorsky H-92 Superhawk, also known as S-92, is a twin-turbine helicopter developed by Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation. This aircraft is used for transporting military cargo and equipment.

It can also be used for other purposes such as medevac, search and rescue missions, and electronic newsgathering.

In total, 60 of these aircraft have been produced, with orders placed from numerous countries worldwide.

Production was started in 1997, with deliveries commencing in 1998. The United States Air Force (USAF) ordered 13 Superhawks to replace their aging fleet of Lockheed C–130 Hercules transport planes.

Six of these were delivered by early 2011 but were never deployed due to budget cuts at the Pentagon, eliminating funding for five of them being employed.

22. HAL Dhruv

The HAL Dhruv is India’s first modern military helicopter. In Bangalore, India, the Dhruv was designed and built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

Several military forces worldwide adopted it primarily for tactical transport and utility missions.

It comes in three variants: anti-submarine warfare (ASW), surveillance/electronic intelligence (ELINT), and troop transport.

The ASW variant has search radar mounted on a mast on top of its fuselage. China operates both variants of Dhruv helicopters; 50 out of 55 were assembled at China’s Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation factory in Liuzhou, Guangxi province.

23. NH – 90

The NH-90, built by a partnership between Airbus and Eurocopter (now known as Airbus Helicopters), is used to transport troops and supplies into battlefields.

The helicopter has an average speed of 130 miles per hour, can stay in flight for up to six hours, and carries up to 11,000 pounds of cargo.

It can also travel 2,000 miles without needing refueling. The NH-90 has been used extensively by German and Italian armed forces since its inception in 1996, but it wasn’t until 2004 that it became fully operational with France’s Air Force.

Technical issues hampered its development for much of its life cycle. Nevertheless, it remains one of Europe’s most capable cargo helicopters.

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