Eurocopter have recently supplied the five helicopters to the State Flight Test Center in Moscow for evaluation tests, a source with knowledge on the situation told Interfax-AVN on Wednesday. The five comprise of three single-engine AS350B3 Squirrels and two AS355NP Twin Squirrels from Eurocopter.
A fleet acquisition of at least 50 is still feasible, despite reports to the contrary. Russia is looking for 43 single and 7 twin engined helicopters to be used mainly for transportation of top Defense Ministry officials and commanders of military districts.
The choice of AS350/AS355 would tie in neatly with the reported interest from Russia in these types for training military pilots - see our report Russian military snubs Mi-34 to order 100 Eurocopters from February this year.
The tacit acceptance of the AS350 and AS355 has not gone down well in Russia. Locally designed and produced models such as the Kamov Ka226 and the Ansat, and perhaps the Mi-34, are effectively being side-lined with the five French-built helicopters being accepted - even on an evaluation basis.
Nikolai Vanesev – HeliHub.com Moscow correspondent
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