Moscow, Feb 23 (IANS/RIA Novosti) The Russian defence ministry is planning to buy at least 45 light multipurpose helicopters from a foreign manufacturer, the Vedomosti daily reported.
A contract worth over six billion rubles (around $200 million) for the purchase of 15 AS350 and 30 AS355 Ecureil helicopters made by Eurocopter is in the works, the newspaper cited a defence industry source as saying.
The ministry may order a total of 100 helicopters of this type mainly for training purposes.
A joint venture with Eurocopter could be set up for the assembly of AS350/355 in Russia, the source said.
The purchase of light helicopters from abroad shows the urgent need for such aircraft by the Russian military, as domestic Ansats and Ka-226s are just entering the market while the Mi-34 is still under tests.
The Eurocopter AS350 is a single-engined light helicopter while the AS355 is a twin-engine variant. Both versions have been produced since the mid-1970s and sales remain strong.