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A tweet by Julia Bergeron showing pad activity near Kennedy Space Center also showed what seems like an unusual visitor for the area. I've attached the relevant picture. It's clearly in the same family as the Mi-8, but has the following unusual features:

  • The tail rotor is on the left, which I think places it in the Mi-17 (export) family?
  • The rear doors are a flat ramp, not a clamshell
  • There's a lump over the right door that might be a winch but also distinctly reminds me of the heater bulge forward of the right main landing gear on the Mi-8s that I'm used to, which this seems to lack?
  • It's a five-blade main rotor and three-blade tail rotor, so I don't think it's one of the newer Mi-38s.

The closest I've come so far is an Mi-17MD, but I'm not fully satisfied with that identification.A picture of an Mi-17 or similar helicopter from below rear right

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting. It must be "a" Mi-17, but I've never seen this version. Perhaps indeed MD. $\endgroup$ – Zeus May 22 at 0:38
  • $\begingroup$ I edited the title as what you were asking was not explicit. Feel free to edit it again if this is not what you want to ask. $\endgroup$ – Manu H May 22 at 5:42
  • $\begingroup$ @ManuH I want to know what variant it is. As I lay out in the question, it's got to be an Mi-8 or Mi-17 variant, I just don't know what one. So I guess I'll edit it again. $\endgroup$ – Erin Anne May 22 at 5:52
  • $\begingroup$ It may be N25308 owned by Vertol Systems Co out of Destin Florida. They have a 1986 MIL MI-17 HIP-H. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer May 22 at 13:46
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm. Hard to say for sure, because Just Helicopters says they do Mi-8 modernization and so it could be one associated with them rather than one they own. The Destin Log shows photos from a few years ago of a clamshell-rear Mi-8 associated with Vertol...Google maps shows 3 Mi-8s sitting at Destin airport though, so huh. Not exactly close to KSC, but Mi-8s have long legs. $\endgroup$ – Erin Anne May 22 at 19:51
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I have a better candidate than the Mi-17MD now: what I think is the next version after that, the Mi-17V-5. The feature that really prompted the question was the heater not being in the place I'm used to; the V5s have an enlarged right-side door, and that apparently necessitates moving the heater to the top-right position (from where the KO-50 used to be, right, extending from the same bulge that extends forward from the right main gear). Oddly, it's not clear to me if all V-5s share the door or not--Airforce Technology makes the right-side door sound optional, and it's tough to tell if various internet sources are just using stock of any Mi-8 when they refer to some country or other purchasing V5s or if they're making sure they're getting it right. Mi-17MDs in the service of the Colombian Air Force seem to delete the heater unit altogether.

The only other thing I'm wondering about now is the large open hatch above the right-side landing gear. Most Hips have round windows there. That might some kind of optional equipment though.

...there also may be a roundel just behind that hatch, but I can't tell what it is. The CH-178s had similar roundels there, but I really really don't think it's one of those.

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