The Russian Ministry of Defense has officially approved development of a new high-speed combat helicopter prototype that will be considered a direct rival to the Sikorsky S-97 Raider.
The design of the new helicopter, which includes coaxial rotors and can reach speeds of about 250 miles per hour, was drawn up by the Mil Design Bureau, one of Russia’s leading military aviation designers.
First flight is scheduled for the beginning of 2019, according to Andrei Boginsky, Director General of the Russian monopoly Russian Helicopters.
So far, Russia has invested about $130 million in the project. Russian engineers have completed tests of the main rotor blades.
The new helicopter will be equipped with a unique rotor system designed by Russian Helicopters that significantly reduces the possibility of airflow breakdown and increases the speed of the helicopter while maintaining its classic layout.
The majority of existing helicopters are designed for a maximum speed of about 215 miles per hour. The new helicopter will be designed to fly almost twice as fast as the existing Mi-8/Mi-17 multipurpose helicopters.
In addition, the rotor system will feature all composite blades. It also will be equipped with new integrated modular avionics.
Development of the helicopter started in 2013. The project has been jointly implemented by Russian Helicopters with the experts of the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Defense, as well as some Russian leading design bureaus.
It is planned that the new helicopter will be primarily operated by the Russian army and will be used in military operations outside Russia, particularly in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.
The new helicopter will be equipped with the 3,000 shp VC-2500M engine, based on the Klimov VK-2500 turboshaft engine, which currently powers the Mi-8/Mi-17 helicopters, as the replacement for banned Ukrainian engines.
The Russian army puts big hopes on the new helicopter, despite the fact that its fuel consumption will be probably the highest among the already existing analogues.
Earlier this year, a prototype of a high-speed combat helicopter was also presented by Kamov, another Russian leading design bureau. That helicopter also will sport coaxial rotors and two turbojet engines and is designed for speeds as high as 310 mph.
In the meantime, according to a Russian military historian Yuri Knutov, such helicopters can be used both in civil and military aviation. In the first case the helicopter will be able to land and take off from virtually any site, and deliver passengers at airplane speed. In a combat configuration, the helicopter will be able to deliver pinpoint strikes and quickly leave the attack zone.
He also added in the middle-term, such helicopters could be armed with laser and electromagnetic weapons.