In a move sure to amaze Western rotorcraft makers, Russia’s Kamov has announced it will sell a hoped-for total of 145 of its Ka-50-2 Black Shark helicopters to the Turkish military in a six-year contract worth some $2.1 billion. The deal, should it be formally sealed by year-end, said Kamov officials, will come as something of a shock to Bell Helicopter, which has been courting the Turkish government for years.
The merger of Russia’s two leading helicopter makers is inevitable, according to Sergey Mikheyev, constructor general of Kamov, one of the two companies involved. “I believe that the merger of design bureaus, mass production plants and adjacent enterprises in a single helicopter-building association is inevitable and will happen sooner or later,” Mikheyev told reporters in Moscow on August 12.
“I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.”–Sir Winston Churchill, radio speech, 1939.
AKKO has been in business more than a decade and is based at Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport. The company has performed interior work on more than 150 passenger and business jets, including Aeroflot and the airline’s VIP charter division, Aeroflot-Plus.
Consolidation among European helicopter operators continues, with Heliportugal joining forces with French operator SAF Helicap, creating a fleet of nearly 50 aircraft.
Simplex Manufacturing has launched a new fire attack system for the Kamov Ka-32. The first system will soon be handed over to the Daego Fire Department in South Korea.
The Model 328 features a new computer-controlled door mechanism and a single six-inch AC electric hover pump with a refill rate of 1,000 gallons per minute. These features will also be included on kits as they are updated for other types.
The launch customers of the Kamov Ka-226 helicopter–the Moscow city government and fossil-fuel company RAO Gazprom–have begun pilot training and operational trials using semi-experimental machines. Their goal is to qualify crews before production helicopters enter service this month or next.
Russia’s largest automotive manufacturer, AutoVAZ, known in Western Europe for its Lada and Niva cars, is working on a new series of rotary-piston engines for aviation applications. Here at Le Bourget, the Russia’s Rosoboronexport defense export agency, which took control of the AutoVAZ two years ago, promotes the company’s products. Its main priority is the 270-hp VAZ-4265 engine that powers Kazan Helicopter’s three-seat Aktai 3.
Exhibitors at January’s Iran Airshow 2005 indicated that the market for civilian helicopters in the Islamic Republic is growing. Local and foreign manufacturers and lessor companies reported a steady growth of the helicopter market.
Television images last May of Saudi commandos dropping from a Kawasaki-Vertol KV 107IIA helicopter in a dramatic rooftop assault to free hostages from terrorists has underscored the importance of rotary-wing aircraft to Middle Eastern governments. The current heightened security state, with its emphasis on anti-terrorist operations, has made helicopters the airborne assets of choice for close-in, fast-reaction operations.