Sino-Russian helicopter venture announced
A Russian helicopter manufacturer has agreed in principle to a joint venture that will produce two models of its aircraft with a Chinese partner, in a sign of increased military co-operation between the two powers.
The Moscow-based Kamov Design Bureau announced yesterday that it would co-operate with China Aviation Industry Corporation Two in Beijing to make Ka-32 and Ka-226 helicopters, according to Qianlong.com, the official Web site of the Beijing Communist Party.
The Ka-32, which is a modified version of the Helix helicopter introduced in 1981, is known for its versatility in missions including naval attack, transport and search and rescue.
The Ka-226, first flown in 1990, is ideal for agricultural use such as spraying pesticides and seeding, but it can also be used for military purposes.
Sergei Mikheyev, president and general designer of the Kamov Design Bureau, said the Russian side would develop a 'strategic partnership' with its Chinese counterpart and research more advanced helicopter designs.
Negotiations between the two sides over details of the future projects are ongoing, but Kamov was keenly looking forward to exploring the lucrative Chinese market, Mr Mikheyev was quoted by the Web site as saying.
Although the helicopters are based on technology that is out of date by Western standards, analysts said the joint venture would boost China's military capabilities.
The joint venture is the latest example of military co-operation between Beijing and Moscow. In 1996 China signed a contract to produce 200 Su-27SK fighters.
The US Department of Defence recently reported that Taiwan has four times as many advanced fighter aircraft as Beijing.