Russia, China to partner to develop new Mi-26 variant
Russia and China are set to sign an agreement for joint production of the Mil Mi-26 heavy transport helicopter variant for use by the Chinese armed forces.
An unnamed source was quoted by Kommersant as saying that Russia had offered the Mi-26 helicopters to China, but the country was not satisfied with the variant offered.
The source said, "We listened to their preferences concerning the design of a helicopter with a cargo capacity of up to 15t.
"That is why we suggested modernising our Mi-26 helicopters."
However, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying that China had demanded characteristics which differ from those of the Mi-26 helicopter.
"The load capacity of such a helicopter is almost two times greater than that of Mi-26," Rogozin said.
"If the Chinese party wants to have a helicopter with characteristics that are significantly different from those of Mi-26, then it must be an extra-heavy helicopter and not Mi-26."
The agreement is scheduled to be signed during the Russian President Vladimir Putin's ongoing visit to China, which seeks to take the bilateral cooperation between the two countries to a new stage of comprehensive and strategic partnership, according to the news agency.
In addition to this, the countries are expected to cooperate on the joint design of a wide-body long-range airliner for use by the Chinese civil agencies.
The source said China seeks to manufacture at least 1,000 aircraft of the type, and also noted that Moscow is also considering a purchase to address its own requirements.
Manufactured by Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant, the Mi-26 is a multipurpose helicopter designed to perform cargo transport and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) missions.
Different Mi-26 variants are operational with Belarus, Cambodian, Indian, Russian and Mexican air forces.
Image: A Russian Air Force Mil Mi-26 multi-purpose helicopter at Torzhok, Russia. Photo: courtesy of Alex Beltyukov.