Russian Helicopters Pursues Mi-8/17 Replacement

 - September 7, 2012, 12:45 PM
The Mil Mi-8/17 series will be replaced by a new-generation helicopter under development by Russian Helicopters.

Russian Helicopters, parent company of Russia’s two helicopter design bureaus and five helicopter-manufacturing plants, is moving forward with a new-generation helicopter that is intended to replace the hugely successful Mil Mi-8/17 series. The new project, dubbed Rachel (Russian advanced commercial helicopter), clearly has many military applications.

Rachel is a product of the wider PSV (Perspectivny Skorostnoy Vertolyot, advanced high-speed helicopter) program, which was implemented to provide a new generation of helicopters with improved performance, in terms of both speed/load and economy/efficiency. PSV is expected to produce three new helicopters in varying weight classes. Rachel corresponds to the medium class. Rachel is envisioned as a 10- to 12-tonne machine, with three- to four-tonne payload and the ability to carry 21 to 24 passengers. Offshore work is an obvious application, but military maritime, medevac and SAR versions are also planned.

When launched in 2008 the PSV program had ambitious goals in terms of design speeds of up to 243 knots, to be achieved through new powerplant configurations and rotor concepts. The Rachel project is less ambitious, with a proposed top speed of 200 knots. Performance increases are to come through advanced aerodynamic shaping of the airframe, and a new main rotor design.

Both Mil and Kamov have been working on PSV, and both have produced Rachel designs. A model displayed at the recent Farnborough airshow depicted Mil’s offering. Its designation of V-37 apparently reflects the type’s proposed top speed of 370 km/h (200 knots). Kamov has also produced a design, based on the Ka-92 with coaxial rotors that has been developed as part of the PSV program, and is reportedly engaged on experimental work associated with the project.

Rachel has successfully concluded a detailed feasibility study, for which both Ka-92 and V-37 preliminary designs were submitted. According to Russian Helicopters, both designs have been approved and the company has decided to “pursue a twin-track research and development program with features from both proposed versions.”