As the helicopter approached the Hankal air base, located not far from the Chechen capital of Grozny, it was hit by enemy troops with an anti-aircraft missile.
On August 19, 2002, 127 Russian soldiers were killed in the downing of a heavy military helicopter in Chechnya. It was a huge Mil Mi-26 aircraft, the largest helicopter ever in series production. These helicopters under full load can reach a mass of as much as 56 tons, and their rotor has a diameter of 32 meters. The total power of their two engines is as much as about 22,800 horsepower.
The Russian helicopter is believed to have been overloaded with troops, probably more than 140. As the helicopter approached Hankal Air Force Base, not far from the Chechen capital, Grozny, it was hit by enemy missiles. It was a 9K38 Needle rocket, launched from the shoulder. It hit one of the two helicopter engines, which then crashed into a nearby minefield. Part of the Russian soldiers managed to get out of the aircraft, but then were killed by mines. The helicopter was on a flight from the Russian air base in Mozdok before the downing, and it was transporting members of various Russian units to Grozny. Only thirty Russian soldiers survived the entire catastrophe, and due to the aforementioned large number of dead, it was also the incident with the largest number of dead in the entire history of helicopter flights.