Russia has added Mil's Mi-28NE attack and developmental Mi-54 utility helicopters to its list of products permitted for sale to China. "Now we are able to co-operate with Chinese industry on all our types, including the Mi-28N, Mi-26M and Mi-54," says Mil general designer Aleksei Samusenko.

China's army already operates armed Mi-17s, but lacks a dedicated attack helicopter capability. The service has evaluated the Mi-35, but now appears to be "more interested in the more advanced Mi-28NE", says Samusenko.

Mil completed the draft design of its Mi-54 last month, and submitted the 4,500kg (9,920lb) -class aircraft for mock-up inspection and the start of certification early this month. The platform is described as "a purely civilian project" to fill the gap between Mil's 11,000kg Mi-17 and 1,500kg Mi-34. However, a military variant could follow if a customer is found.

Originally conceived in 1993, the Mi-54 project was relaunched in 2002, with the Klimov/Motor-Sich VK800 turboshaft selected to power the helicopter and Turbomeca's Arriel 2C identified as an alternative. The first of two experimental aircraft is scheduled to conduct its flight debut in 2007-8, with an assembly line to be established at Rostvertol.

With China seeking medium utility helicopters in the 5t class for military and other applications, Samusenko says: "We are offering them the Mi-54 for co-operative development." The proposal is a move away from only exporting heavy transport helicopters to China, says Mil general director Yuri Andianov.



Source: Flight International