Sikorsky considers Ukrainian engines for S-61 upgrade

Moscow
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Ukrainian gas-turbine maker Motor Sich has held talks with US rotorcraft company Sikorsky over the possible installation of its engines in the Sikorsky S-61 helicopter, Motor Sich director Vyacheslav Boguslayev says.

"Sikorsky has a well-known helicopter, the S-61. It is a bit smaller than the [Mil] Mi-17, and is powered by a 1,400hp [1,044kW] General Electric engine. But the S-61 is not capable of flying well in hot and high conditions with this engine, so Sikorsky came to us. We have already had a few meetings with them over re-engining the S-61 with Motor Sich engines," he says.

Motor Sich is Ukraine's largest aircraft engine producer and makes the VK-2500 engine that powers the Mi-17.

Sikorsky confirms talks have taken place. "We have had discussions with Motor Sich, but cannot comment or speculate on what may eventually result as some serious technical issues remain."

The S-61, which originally entered service in the 1960s, has been produced in anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue and infantry transport roles, and in its British-made Westland Sea King HC4 variant has seen service in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Neither Sikorsky or Motor Sich would comment on a potential customer for a re-engined S-61, but Boguslayev's comments came just days after the US Congress voted to suspend links with Rosoboronexport, the Russian state arms corporation, potentially threatening further deliveries of Mi-17s to the Afghan armed forces.

The US Department of Defense had not responded to requests for comment by 26 July.