Mil and AgustaWestland are to team up on a 4.5t helicopter project, dubbed the "AM159", says Mil general designer Aleksei Samusenko. A decision on launching the project is expected later this year.

AgustaWestland was selected over Eurocopter in part due to an earlier agreement covering licensed production of A109/AW139 series helicopters in Russia at the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant (UUAZ). There is a separate agreement that the Russian helicopter holding Oboronprom (of which Mil and UUAZ are members) would support A119 sales and operations in Russia.

The proposed AM159 is likely to be based on the Mi-54 design that has been worked on for the past two years. The multipurpose civil helicopter is to be powered by a pair of Klimov VK-800 engines - the first new Russian turboshaft design to emerge since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Samusenko says that although the earlier Eurocopter/Euromil Mi-38 project was unsuccessful, Russia's principal rotorcraft design house has not lost hope for a successful co-operation in the future, and with AgustaWestland in particular. Mil also hopes that a strategic Chinese partner will join the project.

Source: Flight International