RUSSIAN ARMY TO HAVE NEW HELICOPTERS

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ROSTOV-ON-DON, March 31, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The Russian army will be equipped with new helicopters, Mi-28N, called Night Hunter, in two years, President Putin's adviser Alexander Burutin has said. He arrived in Rostov-on-Don, Southern Russia, on Wednesday, to participate in the helicopter's tests at the local Rosvertol plant.

According to the adviser, Night Hunter, which began to be developed in 1993, will come to replace the Mi-24 helicopter called "a flying tank".

The new helicopter will have a completely new integrated complex of onboard equipment created by Russian experts. Today this is the only helicopter in the world that can fly in an autopilot regime both in daytime and at night at a low height (from five metres), regardless of the relief, the presidential adviser said.

He pointed out that a radar unit with circular scanning included in the onboard equipment allowed the helicopter not only to spot targets but also to solve navigation tasks, which the radars of the US Apachi helicopter cannot do.

The Russian Night Hunter will be fitted out with the most up-to-date powerful equipment. It will include high-precision guided Ataka (assault) missile, which can hit tanks with the most dynamic shell protection, a supersonic air-to-air guided missile Igla, and a gun of the 3-mm calibre. According to Mr. Burutin, the crew of the helicopter will be well protected: the cockpit is fully armoured, and its glass can sustain bullets of the 12.7 mm calibre.

Mr. Putin's adviser said that Russia was developing at least three new models of attack helicopters.

In his words, the state defense order has increased by 20% this year as compared to last year. "Today we can speak about the suspension of the economic crisis and revival of the defence sector," said the presidential adviser.

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