Russia Teaming Up With Italy on New Helicopter

A view of the HeliVert plant, a joint venture between Russian Helicopters and AgustaWestland, in the town of Tomilino just south of Moscow.

The Russians are joining forces with the Italians to build a light-lift helicopter with a takeoff weight of 2.5 tons at a plant in the Moscow region, Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said Thursday.

"Hopefully, the helicopter will be certified and deliveries will start to the first customers 2016," Manturov said at the opening of HeliRussia-2013 exhibition in Moscow, according to Interfax.

He did not offer additional details about the new model, which will be produced by HeliVert, a joint venture between Russian Helicopters and AgustaWestland, in the town of Tomilino just south of Moscow.

In January, the HeliVert plant announced that the first AW139 helicopter assembled in Russia had successfully performed its maiden flight.

A HeliVert video showing the maiden flight of the first AW139 helicopter assembled in Russia in January.

Russia currently ranks third globally in the production of helicopters, Sergei Chemezov, head of Rostec, the state technologies corporation, said at the international helicopter industry exhibition.

"Five years ago, our helicopter industry producers made only 75 aircraft a year, but today teh number is 290," he said.

He said Russia has to continue expanding its chopper lineup in order to keep its position in the global market.

During HeliRussia-2013, which runs through Saturday at the Crocus Expo center, Russia will introduce an updated version of the Mi-8 — the Mi-171A2 — that it hopes will allow Russian helicopters to maintain a leading edge in the niche of medium-weight helicopters for the next 15 to 20 years.

HeliRussia is an annual exhibition demonstrating recent innovations in the helicopter industry. More than 200 companies from 18 countries participated in the fifth annual exhibition in 2012.

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