Russian helicopters are well known in the Middle East. These relations became stronger last year when a pool of Middle East investors and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) agreed to co-invest in Russian Helicopters. The parties will invest up to $600 million in the company, and eventually will hold up to 25% of the share capital of the $2.35 billion-revenue company. Russian Helicopters CEO Andrey Boginsky told ShowNews’ Maxim Pyadushkin about plans for the Middle East.

Do you think that the new investors can help promote Russian helicopters in this region?

The pool of international investors definitely helps us to expand our presence. I’m sure that the efforts by our Middle East partners will help increase our activities in this region, where we have significant potential for the growth.

How important are the markets of the Middle East, North Africa and the Central Asia for Russian Helicopters?

These are very promising markets for us as we have large programs in a number of countries there. Russian attack helicopters are traditionally in demand in North Africa and the Middle East. For example, our Kamov Ka-52K was selected this year by the Egyptian navy. Besides, we constantly work to expand our sales geography. We have already signed the first contract with Turkey for delivery of Kamov Ka-32 utility helicopters. We are in talks with Iran on deliveries of light rotorcraft.

In Central Asia we actively work with Russia’s partners in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (besides Russia, it includes the Central Asian countries Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as well as Armenia and Belarus.). In October we inked a letter of intent with our Kazakh partners to launch the semi-knocked down assembly of Mil Mi-8AMT/Mi-171 transport helicopters in that country.

Some countries of the region operate Russian combat helicopters. What deliveries can you emphasize this year? Has the combat experience in Syria increased the demand for these rotorcraft?

We made a first delivery of Mi-28NE attack helicopters with an onboard defense suite this year. It significantly increases tolerance to battle damage and protection from surface-to-air missiles with infra-red seekers. These helicopters also have ungraded communication equipment. Russia’s operation in Syria has definitely encouraged interest among potential customers, because they are always keen to purchase aircraft that proved itself with real combat experience.

What is the progress in promoting Kamov Ka-226T light helicopters to Iran. What quantities do you negotiate?

Ka-226T successfully completed the series of trials in Iran at extremely high temperatures. After the end of the trials, we ran a conference in Tehran together with our partner, Iran Helicopter Support and Renewal Company (IHSRC), for potential operators of this type.

We are now in talks for delivery of Ka-226T for the newly founded aviation medevac service of the Ministry of Health and Medical education of Iran. The program for creation of this service calls up to eight light helicopters.

What new commercial and combat helicopters programs does your company work on now?

Russian Helicopters does research and development on a constant basis, and that allows us to hold leading positions in the global helicopter market 

In August we signed a contract with the Russian Defense Ministry to work out the concept for a high-speed combat helicopter. After this two-years’ effort, we should define the aircraft’s configuration and technical requirements. The company’s design bureaus are using the experience gained during the trials of the high-speed helicopter demonstrator with the new main rotor.

As for commercial programs, I would like to mention the light single-engine multirole VRT500 helicopter, developed by our subsidiary VR-Technologies design bureau in cooperation with foreign partners. It will be available in multirole, passenger, transport, training, medevac and VIP configurations. It will be a light single-engine helicopter with coaxial main rotors. Takeoff weight will be around 1.6 tons. The first prototype is expected to be assembled by the end of 2019. We plan certification by mid-2021.