Beijing: China is planning to build a heavy-
lift 33-ton helicopter in co-production with Russia to
overcome logistic bottlenecks in moving heavy military
equipment besides helping in disaster relief operations.
China`s state-owned helicopter producer is in talks with
its Russian counterpart on the project. So far, only two
countries - US and Russia - have the capability to build such
heavy lift choppers.
"China can produce helicopters with a take-off weight
from one ton to 13 tons, but only the United States and
Russia can produce choppers with lift-off weight of more than
20 tons," said Xia Qunlin, deputy general manager of
Avicopter, a joint venture between Aviation Industry Corp of
China (AVIC) and the Tianjin municipal government.
Avicopter Co Ltd and Russian Helicopters are now
discussing its feasibility, which includes sizing up the
model`s market and determining both sides` investment shares
and division of work, he told state-run China Daily today.
It is not clear yet whether the issue figured in talks
between Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and his Russian counterpart
Wen is currently in Moscow to attend the summit of
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
Russia supplies engines for most of the new generation
Chinese fighter aircraft JF-17 Thunder which is being jointly
produced with Pakistan.
If approved by the government, the heavy-lift helicopter
will be developed and put into service in five to seven years,
he said, adding it will be produced at Avicopter`s Tianjin
Xia said the 33-ton heavy helicopter is expected to fill
a gap of heavy lift chopper in China and play important roles
in rescue missions and fighting forest fires, he said.
China realised its need for heavy-lift helicopters in
2008, when it hired the Russian choppers to conduct rescue
operations when a devastating earthquake in Sichuan province
killed more than 69,000 people.
Watching the heavy Russian helicopters, Chinese Prime
Minister Wen Jiabao has instructed the aviation department to
develop them at home.
In October 2008, Wen and Russian Prime Minister Putin
witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between
AVIC and Russian Helicopters on jointly developing heavy-lift
However, the jointly developed heavy chopper will be
"more reliable and more economic to use" and "suit China`s
demands better", Xia said.
Though China made some big strides in aviation its
helicopter industry is still in a developing stage.