By Yuan Fang
China.org.cn staff reporter
After lengthy talks, China and Russia are expected very soon to seal a deal on jointly developing heavy helicopters, said an official from the China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC) on Wednesday.
The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on developing heavy helicopters last October when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
"It will be mutually beneficial for China and Russia jointly to develop the heavy helicopters," said Zhang Hongbiao, director of the Science and Technology Department of AVIC, the country's leading aviation manufacturer. "China still doesn't have its own heavy helicopters, and Russia needs to upgrade its heavy helipcopter sector. Its Mi-26 has been in service for over 30 years," he added.
The heavy helicopter is characterized with higher speed and a larger payload and will work more effectively when disasters strike. The massive earthquake which hit Sichuan on May 12 last year highlighted China's lack of heavy helicopters.
According to Zhang, the two sides have held a series of talks to proceed with the joint effort and a contract is expected to be signed soon. Earlier media reports suggest the heavy helicopters that China and Russian aim to develop will have a maximum takeoff weight of 20 to 30 tons and are expected to come off the assembly line in five to six years.
(China.org.cn March 12, 2009)