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Russia starts flight tests of new helicopter for Special Operations Forces

As its main specific feature, a Mi-8AMTSh-VN helicopter employs two side-mounted 12.7mm forward-firing machine-guns

MOSCOW, July 22. /TASS/. A Mil Mi-8AMTSh-VN new helicopter for Special Operations Forces has entered flight tests, CEO of Russian Helicopters Group (part of the state hi-tech corporation Rostec) Andrei Boginsky said on Wednesday.

"The construction of helicopters [Mi-8AMTSh-VN] is proceeding along with the R&D work. The national helicopter-building center has already started flights," the chief executive said.

Rostec Aviation Cluster Industrial Director Anatoly Serdyukov said that the Mi-8AMTSh-VN helicopter had been technically designed taking into account the combat experience of employing helicopters in present-day armed conflicts.

"The high-altitude engines of increased power, the new rotor system, the expanded weapons suite, the enhanced protection and other specifics of the upgraded helicopter increase its combat capabilities and allow employing it for special operations in the most adverse conditions. The first stage of the trials is due to be completed in November. Eventually, two more helicopters of this type will join the flights," he said.

Russia’s Defense Ministry signed a contract with Russian Helicopters rotorcraft manufacturer at the Army-2019 international arms show for the delivery of ten latest Mi-8AMTSh-VN special-purpose helicopters. The gunships are due to be delivered in 2020-2021.

The new helicopter has been developed in its special modification, considering the experience of combat operations in Syria. As its main specific feature, a Mi-8AMTSh-VN helicopter employs two side-mounted 12.7mm forward-firing machine-guns. The helicopter is outfitted with new flight control and navigation equipment, a gyro-stabilized opto-electronic system, a searchlight with an infrared emitter, dual-band lighting equipment and is adapted for using night vision goggles.

In order to increase its combat survivability, the Mi-8AMTSh-VN is outfitted with a digital autopilot system and a defensive aids suite that automatically detects missile launches against the helicopter, jams missile homing warheads and releases heat flares.

The crew’s cabin and the helicopter’s main systems are protected by the new armor made of titanium alloy. The floor of the cargo compartment and the helicopter’s sides are shielded up to the windows with the removable lightweight Kevlar armor to protect the crew.