Russia is to begin production of a new helicopter that will be capable of speeds of up to 270 kt (500 km/h; 310 mph) in the early part of the next decade, state media reported on 1 September.
Development of the high-speed helicopter is progressing well, with a prototype expected to make its maiden flight in 2018, the TASS news agency quoted Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Aerospace Forces Colonel General Viktor Bondarev as saying. Serial production should begin in 2022, he added.
Commonly referred to as the Russian Advanced Commercial Helicopter (RACHEL), this new high-speed platform is being developed by the Mil and Kamov design houses as an eventual replacement for the Mil Mi-8/17 ‘Hip’ series. Although billed in its moniker as a commercial project, it has obvious military applications with many hundreds of Mi-8/17s serving today in Russia and beyond.
A flying testbed is reportedly being built using elements of the Mi-35, but with a slightly altered fuselage and rotor system, to prove the speed parameters of the new design.