The Mil design bureau has been able to resume flight tests of its Mi-28N all-weather/ night-attack variant of the basic Mi-28 Havoc, with funding for the development being provided through a bank loan.

The Mi-28N was flown for the first time in November 1995, but testing was halted because Mil was unable to fund the project. The design bureau was unable to pay for modifications of the main gearbox to its manufacturer, Perm Motors, and Mil employees did not receive their salaries for several months.

The Russian army is supporting the development programme politically rather than financially. Col Gen Vitaly Pavlov, the Army Aviation commander, personally took the Mi-28N controls for a short hop during an official presentation at the Mil test base at Panki near Moscow. Pavlov declines to express publicly any preference in the continuing competition between the Mi-28N and Kamov Ka-52/50N, saying only that "everything will be decided during flight tests".

The Mi-28N continues to be flown with an old rotor from the earlier Mi-28A.The replacement main composite rotor with swept blade tips is being tested on a Mi-24 testbed, but is scheduled to be mounted on the Mi-28N "very soon", according to Georgy Sinelshchikov, the new Mil general designer and chief executive.

The Mi-28N's weapons control system, for which RPKB of Ramenskoye is the system integrator, includes night-vision goggles, a forward-looking infra-red system, Phazotron Arbalet radar mounted on top of the rotor, integrated satellite/inertial navigation system and digital map.

Three liquid-crystal colour displays are installed in each of the two cockpit instrument panels.

Mil has not released cockpit pictures and is unwilling to comment on the suppliers of elements of the weapons-control systems. Some systems are believed to have been delivered by Sextant-Avionique and Thomson-CSF.

Source: Flight International