Modified Mi-24 Explores High-Speed Helicopter Technology

 - January 6, 2016, 11:58 AM
The PSV demonstrator was displayed ahead of its first flight, at the MAKS’2015 show in Moscow. (Photo: Vladimir Karnozov)

After lengthy preparations, an Mi-24K testbed equipped with a new main rotor flew for the first time on December 23 last year at Tomolino near Moscow, which is Mil’s flight-test base. The Russian government is funding the development of a high-speed helicopter (Russian acronym PSV). Although the Russian defense ministry is interested in such a machine, Mil parent company Russian Helicopters is downplaying its commercial prospects.

The Mi-24 PSV demonstrator features two Klimov VK-2500 turboshafts, which are slightly more powerful than the two TV3-117s found on standard Mi-24s. The new blades have curved ends to avoid flutter. Cruise speeds of up to 215 knots are expected, according to Mil. The company describes some hardware elements installed on it as “specimens for improving in-service helicopters” of the current Mi-24/35 and Mi-8/17 series. This might be a reference to new avionics that have reportedly been developed by KRET, as well as the new blades.

Tentatively, the Russian defense ministry plans to fly the prototype of an all-new high-speed rotorcraft design in 2018, with production to follow in 2022. According to Russian Air-and-Space Force commander Col. Gen. Victor Bondarev, the service wants a next-generation rotorcraft that can develop a level speed up to 270 knots.

But the scientific-technical council of Russian Helicopters concluded last September that the technology level currently available does not permit it to meet the specification set by the government. The council said the specified maximum level speed can be achieved, but the operational and maintenance cost would be too high for commercial operators.

This conclusion has led to termination of governmental funding for a number of R&D programs launched earlier. However, the government continues to provide funds for the PSV demonstrator amounting to 630 million roubles ($8.5 million), including bench trials of rotor system components.