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Russia signs contract to develop new heavy helicopter with China

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Russia has signed a contract with China to jointly develop a multipurpose heavy helicopter, state-owned Russian Helicopters said on Monday, in a sign of closer technological cooperation between Moscow and the world’s no. 2 economy.

Russia will contribute parts for the aircraft including its transmission, steering screw and anti-icing system, the company’s Chief Executive Andrey Boginsky told President Vladimir Putin, according to a transcript on the Kremlin’s website of their meeting.

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The contract builds on an agreement signed between the Russian and Chinese governments in 2016 for China’s Avicopter and Russian Helicopters, a unit of state industrial group Rostec, to develop a heavy helicopter for the Chinese market that would be assembled in China.

Russia has been in talks about the project with China since 2008 and the contract was signed on June 25 this year, Boginsky told Putin. He said the contract would last about 13 years, but did not disclose other details.

Russia pivoted to China in 2014 as its relations with the West plunged into acrimony over the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

China is Russia’s biggest trade partner and Kremlin watchers have been watching for signs of closer cooperation between the two governments as they have both sparred with the West.

They have also since 2014 been jointly developing a long-range wide-body new generation aircraft for 250-320 passengers, which, according to Russia’s state-owned United Aircraft Corporation, will make its maiden flight in 2023.

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