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9 Feb, 2010 04:37

Bag me a couple: new Russian helicopters go international

One of Russia's biggest helicopter manufacturers is starting a new batch of production.

Hundreds of internationally acclaimed models have already been ordered from abroad.
Among them the legendary Mi24, a “flying tank”, and Mi26, the world’s heaviest helicopter…

Russian choppers are occupying the skies above more than 30 countries. But Russia plans to go further, quadrupling its share of the world market within the next five years.

And the Ka-32A and Ka-226T are among those that could make this ambition a reality. They can easily operate both in snowy mountains and in the tropics … they can take off from a ship and land in a desert.

“The key advantage is that they are multipurpose,” said test pilot Vladimir Lavrov. “They can transport cargo and passengers; can be used in rescue operations, when delay may mean death. they can also be used by police and private companies.”

The Ka-32A is produced for 20 nations, among them Canada and some of the European countries. But the Ka-226T is just at the beginning of its potential success-story.

Sergey Mikryukov from Kumertau aviation production enterprise said the Ka-226T just got on to the short list of an Indian tender for more than 200 choppers:

“It’s easy to control, reliable and rather cheap. We believe we have every chance of winning,” he added.

"The times of the Soviet-Indian friendship, when India preferred our country’s products just because of our warm relations, have gone," said the head of the Strategies and Technology Analysis Center, Ruslan Pukhov. “Today Russia is just one of many other players. But certainly if we win, the entire country will benefit.”

Both machines are produced at Kumertau Aviation Production Enterprise in Russia’s Urals.

According to Aleksey Tolmachyov, who also works for the Kumertau aviation production enterprise, they have almost everything they need to produce a helicopter within one factory, from producing tiny parts to assembling the entire machine:

“It differs greatly from Western standards, where many enterprises from all over Europe work on the same helicopter or airplane,” explained Tolmachyov.

Russia’s helicopter industry, which has been in bad shape since the collapse of the USSR, now seems to be flying high, and is well on course to reach its goal of being a serious player on the global market.