The answer to that question seems pretty easy. The best replacement for a Mi-17 is…
another Mi-17. This may seem shocking when written by a Polish citizen who knows that Russian occupation of Poland has ended on the 18th of September 1993 when the last Russian troops left our country and we have finally started to be independent.
But lets put politics aside. A Hammer is just a hammer. It doesn’t have a nationality, beliefs, religion, it isn’t from the left or the right. It smacks nails. The same goes for the Mi-17. It is a hammer in the helicopter world. It just works and works OK.
If you have ever been on board a Mi-17 you will know what I mean. This is a work horse and not a stallion. Stallions are good for showing off. Workhorses are good for war and this is a fine example of “war thinking” when building. Many parts were interchangeable even with soviet aircraft which means that on the battlefield you could visit a repair shop of a friendly fighter or fighter bomber unit a grab a part or two for replacement.
There aren’t many sophisticated elements on the Mi-17, just plain old aviation technology which in many events could be fixed or replaced with simple tools. That is how things need to be done on the battlefield when two similar powers clash. At some point it’s all about the basics. But let’s hope that those wars wont happen soon and few tech gadgets would be a nice addition for the crew.
Well enough about the Mi-17. Let’s move to the replacement. A helicopter which will replace the Mi-17 should at least be as good as it’s predecessor. What does it mean? It should be useful and versatile. This means packing 20 or more soldiers inside with full gear without any problems. Not some skinny radio operators from the rear units (no hard feelings guys) but full blown Special Forces operators with extra gear. Those guys need space and when they go to war they should go in a comfortable manner because this can only bump the outcome of their mission.
When you pack a bunch of troops inside you should be able to easily unload them which means side doors and a back ramp. This allows you to also pack a small car inside or any other gear on wheels – also good for the spec-ops guys.
It should be also capable to heavy lift things on a rope attached under it’s belly and fly oversize cargo with the back door opened. For peace time you can call a C-295 or C-130 but at war sometimes there are none when you need them and you have to improvise.
It would be nice to arm a “truck” like this with some guns or rockets. They always come in handy when it starts to get really nasty. Aside that, the usual things like countermeasures, at least two engines with the ability to fly on only one of them, redundant equipment, communications, night flying, spec ops toys etc.
Tech is good but let’s not go the “all new and shiny” way. The more stuff you take on board the more can be broken in the worst moment. So who can jump right in and fill the Mi-17 shoes? Any volunteers?