Russia and China have signed a formal agreement related to their planned Advanced Heavy-lift (AHL) helicopter.

The agreement was signed in the presence of Russian president Vladimir Putin during a visit to Beijing, says Russian Helicopters in a statement.

The arrangement will see Russian Helicopters work with Avicopter to develop the AHL.

Russia will provide technology and develop individual systems. Avicopter will be responsible for organising the programme, design, building prototypes, testing, certification, serial production, and marketing.

China is our oldest strategic military and technical partner, and we are happy that our cooperation has extended to the civil sector,” says Russian Helicopters.

“Joint development of the civilian advanced heavy helicopter by our company and Avicopter will not only contribute to the further development of cooperation with the Chinese party in high-tech sectors, but also to the strengthening of friendly ties between Russia and China in general,” says Russian Helicopters CEO Alexander Mikheev.

“Russian Helicopters has unique competence to create heavy helicopters and is ready to assist our Chinese partners to implement this project.”

The AHL will have a takeoff weight of 38-tonnes, and be able to carry 10-tonnes internally and 15-tonnes on an external sling. It will be able to operate in all weather and terrain conditions. Key missions include transportation, medical evacuation, and fire fighting.

By comparison, the Mil Mi-26, the world’s largest helicopter, can carry a payload of over 20-tonnes.

Russian Helicopters and AVIC foresee a potential market for 200 units, mainly in China. Preliminary technical specifications have been laid down, and the two companies will sign a contract later in 2015.