Russia has significantly modified a with curved rotor blades and a new avionics system as part of a project intended to improve the speed and reliability of many of its military helicopters. The testbed helicopter, called the Demonstrator PSV or "Prospective Speedy Helicopter," took off from plant near Moscow for its first flight on December 23.
The Demonstrator PSV was changed from a traditional Mi-24 two-pilot attack helicopter into a single-pilot test vehicle. The primary change to the helicopter was those new rotors with curved blade tips designed to increase speed and provide more stability at high speeds. The designers ultimately hope to improve the cruising speed of the standard Mi-24 by more than 30 percent, or from about 143 knots to 194 knots (165 to 223 mph). That's just the cruising speed. The goal is to push the modified helicopter to a top speed of 216 knots (249 mph) from the current top speed of a standard Mi-24, 180 knots (207 mph).
If the curved rotor design pans out like Russian aviators hope it will, then the country easily could install similar blades on other attack helicopters, such as the and older models that are still manufactured and used in the Russian military. Curved rotor tips could increase the cruising speed of the Mi-28 by 10 percent and its top speed by 13 percent. The design also reduces the noise made by the rotor system and can increase a helicopter's climb rate.
The new test helicopter also has an updated avionics system and Russia's most advanced helicopter engine, the Klimov VK-2500. The two Klimov engines in the Demonstrator PSV put out 2,400 horsepower each. The modular avionics system developed by KERT, a Russian electronics firm, could streamline the process of future upgrades and improve flight safety. KERT's avionics system, currently being tested on the PSV, could be adapted to a large number of Russian helicopters.
says it's likely Russia is pursing these upgrades to its current helicopter fleet because building new, complete helicopters has proven too expensive for the Ministry of Defense. Whatever the reason, Russia's military choppers might soon be a whole lot faster.