AgustaWestland has broadened the scope of its Moscow-based HeliVert joint venture to include assembly of its new AW189 super-medium twin.

The move offers the potential for a significant sales boost for the 8.3t helicopter, with Russian oil giant Rosneft lined up to acquire up to 160 locally built examples.

HeliVert, in which Russian Helicopters also holds a 50% stake, was set up in 2012 to assemble the lighter AW139 intermediate twin, manufacturing up to 20 rotorcraft per year for the local market.

However, the new “strategic partnership” signed on 31 December by Finmeccanica and Rostec – the manufacturers’ parent companies – and Rosneft will see the first two AW189s delivered from the Tomilino facility to the oil giant in mid-2015, Rostec says.

Successful operation of the new helicopters could see Rosneft ordering an additional eight AW189s in the autumn of 2015, Rostec adds, with the potential size of the commitment rising to as many as 160 machines in the period to 2025.

The deal means HeliVert will have an exclusive licence to sell and manufacture both the AW139 and AW189 for Russia and the CIS countries. After-sales support and training will also be delivered by the company.

Igor Sechin, Rosneft chief executive, says: "The development of offshore projects is a strategic objective of Rosneft.The implementation of this task is impossible without modern Arctic and marine engineering [and] oil and gas platforms, as well as modern aircraft. We are pleased with the agreement, which builds strategic co-operation in this important area.”