Russians showcase new technical know-how

Russian airlines Aeroflot and S7 have signed multi-billion dollar contracts with Airbus on the third day of the Paris Air Show. But that was just one highlight from the day.

The Russians say they are developing an aero engine of the future, of the 5th generation, that is more advanced than any other on the market. Leading aero engine designer Klimov unveiled plans for its VK-800 at the Paris Air Show. It will be on the market by 2009.

95% of Russia's heli-fleet is equipped with Klimov engines. This year Russian helicopter manufacturers have only brought models of their products to the Paris Air Show.

The MI-8 is the most mass produced Russian helicopter. It is considered the safest and easiest to maintain. It makes up most of the national fleet. But the Black Shark, the Alligator and the Night Hunter are more advanced military machines.

“It's called Night Hunter because this helicopter is equipped with a thermal imaging system able to search for the targets during the nighttime. It finds the target, identifies and then destroys it,” explains Aleksey Samusenko, MIL Helicopters General Designer.

Industry experts say the technical know-how is there but Russian companies need to work on their management and sales skills if they really want to be international contenders.

The Russians say that when their helicopters are finally equipped with high tech 5th generation engines, they will knock their competitors from the skies.