The Russian Defense Ministry has not abandoned its plans to buy a large batch of light helicopters abroad.
The first five helicopters produced by the Western European concern Eurocopter have already been supplied to the State Flight Test center for tests, a source with knowledge on the situation told Interfax-AVN on Wednesday.
"There are two two-engine AS355NP helicopters and three one-engine AS350B3 helicopters," the source said.
The tender for the purchase of 50 light multi-purpose helicopters (43 one-engine and seven two-engine) worth a total of 6.5 billion rubles has been cancelled by the Russian Defense Ministry, which was officially reported on the state purchase contracts website, but the negotiations really continued.
"The parties have reached an agreement to test the helicopters and make a final decision on their purchase after the tests," the source said.
The purpose of these tests is to disprove the decision made by the tender commission that the tactical, technical and flight characteristics of the helicopters put up for tender do not fully meet the Defense Ministry requirements.
"The Defense Ministry plans to buy a total of 47 helicopters. They will be used mainly for transportation of top Defense Ministry officials and commanders of military districts," the source said.
If such a purchase is made, it will be a considerable blow to the image of the Russian light helicopters Ka-226 and Ansat, which are direct rivals of the AS350 and AS355, the source said. "In addition, it will seriously weaken our positions in international helicopter tenders, in particular, the tender to sell 197 light helicopters to India, in which the Kа-226 is taking part," the source said.
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