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    Russia Air Force will receive new attack helicopters in 2009

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    The new Mi-28N Night Hunter helicopter gunship will continue to be fine-tuned by the manufacturer in 2008, after which it will be adopted for service, a senior military official said on Tuesday.

    MOSCOW, January 29 (RIA Novosti) - The new Mi-28N Night Hunter helicopter gunship will continue to be fine-tuned by the manufacturer in 2008, after which it will be adopted for service, a senior military official said on Tuesday.

    The Mi-28N is the latest modification of the Mi-28 attack helicopter, manufactured by the Rostvertol plant in southern Russia. It has been designed to conduct hunter-killer missions against main battle tanks, helicopters, ground forces, and armor in any weather conditions.

    "At present the Mi-28N is undergoing government-supervised tests and preliminary operation in military units, in the course of which the helicopter will be upgraded to meet Air Force requirements," said Maj. Gen. Viktor Ivanov, head of the Armed Forces Army Aviation Directorate.

    The Night Hunter is powered by two TV3-117VMA turbo-shaft engines developing 2,200-shp each. The armored cockpit protects the crew from small arms fire and absorbs the impact energy during emergency landings, ensuring outstanding survivability.

    Its combat range with internal fuel tanks is 450 kilometers (about 280 miles), but with external fuel tanks may be extended to 1,100 km (about 680 miles).

    Russia's Defense Ministry has said it is planning to procure between 45 and 67 Mi-28Ns in the next few years and to fully replace the Mi-24 Hind helicopters in the armed forces by 2015.

    Rosvertol general director, Boris Slyusar, said his company is ready to start deliveries of Mi-28N helicopters to Venezuela as early as the second half of 2009, if the Latin American country signs a contract with Russia.

    Russia may also sell the Night Hunter to China, Algeria and some other countries.

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