Russia has approved joint development of heavy helicopter with China intended primarily for the Chinese market. According to Interfax-AVN newswire, which cites Russian Helicopters holding, the negotiations on the program are nearing their final round. A contract will be signed once everything is finalized.
The inter-governmental agreement was signed on June 25, last year and has been approved by the Russian Prime-Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The demand until 2040 is estimated at 400 aircraft. Russian Helicopters will take part in the Advanced Heavy Lifter (AHL) program from the Russian side, and their Chinese partner is Avicopter. The two manufacturers signed the preliminary cooperation agreement in May 2015. The Chinese side is in charge of the process organization, as well as design, testing, certification and serial production of the rotorcraft. The Russian contribution will be limited to the design of several subsystems and technology transfer.
The manufacturers earlier reported that the new helicopter should be capable of lifting 10-15 tons. Its projected maximum take-off weight is 38.2 tons against Mi-26’s 56 tons. The AHL’s expected ceiling is 5,700 m, range – 630 km and speed – 300 kmph.
There is still no final decision of what engines will power the AHL. Among the potential candidates are the Ukrainian D-136 used for the Mi-26, its upgraded version AI-136T (currently under development) and the Russian PD-12B (the yet to be developed version of the PD-14 turbofan).