Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov recently stated that two brigades of mountaineers, which the Army is creating in Botlikh (Dagestan) and Zelenchukskaya (Karachayevo-Cherkessiya), will be equipped with combat helicopters. It’s not clear if helicopter units will be part of the brigades or will assist the units during exercises and operations.

As is known, the Ground Force passed over the control over the army aviation to the Air Force in 2003. Vladimir Mikhailov, commander of the Air Force, thinks that this was a correct decision. Life shows that reorganization has not decreased the number of crashes. In addition, units have not received new helicopters. The Army has received only several Mi-24N helicopters 9equipped with thermal imaging devices). Colonel-General Alexander Zelin, deputy commander of the Air Force for aviation, state that the Army will receive first Mi-28N Night Hunter helicopters only in 2006.

He noted: “State tests are to finish in 2005; the Air Force must receive the Mi-28N in 2006.”

Russia is now creating a helicopter holding consisting of the Mil helicopter plant, the Ulan-Ude aircraft plant, the Vpered mechanical engineering plant, the Stupino mechanical engineering enterprise, the Kazan helicopter plant and other enterprises.

The Oboronprom corporation will become the head company of the holding. To all appearances, these changes affected the duration of state tests. In the meantime, Zelin stated that Vladimir Mikhailov gave an order to the industry to accomplish testing of the new helicopter on time.

The Central Staff of the Air Force told WPS that the Mi-28N Night Hunter was created by the Mil helicopter plant on the basis of the experience of using the Mi-8/17 military-transport helicopters and the Mi-24 combat helicopter. Night Hunter differs from the Mi-28 prototype – the new modification is equipped with the integrated complex of onboard radio-electronic hardware, which makes it possible to use helicopter in the day and at night. The new helicopter features high efficiency and survivability. The Mi-28N has been chosen as the basic combat helicopter of the Russian Army.

There are plans to supply around 50 helicopters to the army aviation of the Air Force until 2010. It’s not ruled out that the brigades stationed in Karachaevo-Cherkessia and Dagestan will be armed with these helicopters.

It’s obvious that the brigades will also receive military-transport helicopters. Will these be the Mi-8 or some other helicopters? Dmitry lelikov, first deputy general director of Oboronprom, said that the army will receive new military-transport helicopters. However, this will not happen in the near future. Lelikov said that the helicopter holding will create the Mi-383 helicopter and its civil modification Mi-382 until 2010.

He noted: “These helicopters will be created on the basis of the Mi-38.”

According to him, the holding will also create the Mi-54 helicopter until 2010. Lelikov said: “We plan to supply the Mi-28N and Mi-383 helicopters to the Army during this period.” In other words, it’s possible that next year the brigades of mountaineers will receive the obsolete Mi-8 helicopters and their modifications (Mi-17 and Mi-38). The Mi-383 will only be supplied in 2010.

Lelikov said that Oboronprom plans to create some other types of helicopters. According to him, “there are planned to create unmanned helicopters on the basis of the Mil helicopters. The corporation also plans to design a transport helicopter with the carrying capacity of six tons.”

Lelikov said: “this will be so-called convertiplane, a symbiosis of an aircraft and helicopter.” The propellers can play the role of the main rotors and tractor propellers. Lelikov noted that in the past the Mil helicopter plant worked on the convertiplane.

Lelikov said: “We think that the market for such convertiplanes has appeared. We want to create a prototype of such helicopter and test it.”

The Russian Armed Forces may become interested in convertiplanes. Firstly, they have high carrying capacity. Secondly, the range of flight reaches 1,200 kilometers. However, it’s hardly likely that they will be used in the mountains.

In other words, the Army is creating a qualitatively new type of units on the basis of the Ground Force and the Airborne Force, using combat helicopters. The US created such units during the Vietnam war. Russia is making first attempts to do this.