Friday, July 2, 2010

Russian-Italian Venture To Build Helos Near Moscow

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Russian Helicopters and Italy's AgustaWestland have set up a joint plant outside Moscow.

The final assembly plant, which will roll out civil AW139 medium twin helicopters, is the first of its kind in Russia, and will allow Russian helicopter makers to tap into modern Western technologies, Russian officials said at the ceremony.

"We will gain access to new technical production solutions and high helicopter servicing quality standards," Oboronprom's General Director Andrei Reus said, according to a joint statement from the two companies. "We will seek to broaden our cooperation, including by gradually localizing Italian helicopter manufacturing in Russia."

Denis Manturov, Russian deputy industry and trade minister, said that the investment into the plant, $50 million, was equally split between the Russian and Italian companies, and the plant is expected to assemble 20 helicopters a year. The first five AW139s will be produced by the end of 2011.

The plant will be managed by a joint venture called HeliVert. It was agreed that by 2016, 40 percent of the assembly parts will be produced in Russia and the rest in Italy.

Several Russian industry analysts said that assembling AW139 in Russia can boost competition among the Russian helicopter makers, but it is difficult to predict whether this competition will improve their effectiveness. Leading Russian helicopter-making companies Kamov and Mil will face tough domestic competition against the model that was developed abroad under superior production standards.

Oboronprom, a state-controlled holding of which Russian Helicopters is a subsidiary, and AgustaWestland started strategic cooperation in 2007 by signing a memorandum of understanding.

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