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Russia, China to move ahead with development of heavy-lift helicopter

Russian Helicopters and the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) have signed a contract to jointly develop the Advanced Heavy Lifter (AHL) helicopter, according to an 8 November report by Russia's TASS news agency.

TASS quoted the CEO of the Russian Helicopters, Andrei Boginsky, as saying during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that the contract was signed on 25 June following about 13 years of negotiations, adding that it will take another 13 years to build the AC332 AHL.

According to Boginsky, Russia will primarily act as a technical partner and supply, among others, tail rotor elements as well as the transmission and de-icing systems. Avicopter, an AVIC subsidiary, will jointly develop the platform and plan its serial production for the Chinese market.

The joint AHL programme was first disclosed in May 2015, after which Russia and China signed an intergovernmental agreement the following year. No reason has been given for the five-year delay in signing the development contract.

The new helicopter is expected to have a maximum take-off weight of 38 tonnes and be capable of carrying 10 tonnes of cargo internally or 15 tonnes externally. It is expected to have a range of up to 630 km, a maximum speed of 300 km/h, and a service ceiling of approximately 18,700 ft. The AHL is being designed for operations in ‘hot and high' environments and in all weather conditions.

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