Russian helicopter design bureau Mil and the manufacturing company Rostvertol launched a scathing attack on Western companies which offer upgrades to the Mi-24 combat helicopter during a Farnborough press conference yesterday.

They claimed that the modernisations put lives at risk, damage Mil's reputation and threaten its financial stability.

The joint press conference was dominated by comments about the standard of Mi-24 Hind upgrades performed outside the control of Mil.

Although no companies were mentioned by name, both ATE in South Africa and Israel Aircraft Industries have contracts to upgrade Mil machines, while BAE Systems also offers avionics and weapons improvements on the aircraft. BAE later issued a statement defending its position.

Yury Andrianov, general director of Mil Moscow, said that if the practice continued, Mil would remove all guarantees of safe operation for the Mi-24s in question.

He added that the international upgrade programmes were causing significant damage to the Russian economy. Mil's design chief Alexey Samusenko echoed those sentiments, saying: "We are concerned first of all with flight safety. If these upgrades are done without input from the helicopter's original designers, there are issues.



"The result is less safe flight operations in terms of human lives being endangered and it also has an effect on our company's reputation. Lastly – and this is the least consideration – there is the financial cost to us."

BAE already has a foothold in the market and is teamed with Kazan Helicopters, a rival manufacturer to Rostvertol, to equip Mil Mi-172 helicopters with a new mission system.

Referring to the specific allegations made during the press conference, BAE Systems' statement said: "BAE Systems is working as mission system integrator in support of the prime contractor, who is appointed by the government in the Central European Mi-24 programmes. The prime contractor makes the appropriate arrangements with the design bureau concerned to assure the safety and integrity of the upgrade package."

Source: Flight Daily News