Two Italian-made helicopters have joined the fleet of Rossiya special aircraft division, which is servicing the president, prime-minister, chairmen of both Houses of Parliament, head of constitutional court and official delegations, Izvestiya reports.
Augusta AW139 helicopters are currently deployed in Sochi, where the president works often. «The helicopters have been undergoing trials and now they are tested and ready to service the head of the state», — the press-secretary of Department of Presidential Affairs, Anatoly Khrekov, said.
Italian vehicles will be operated along with other Rossiya’s aircraft. However, Vladimir Putin has not used the new helicopters yet preferring Russian Mi-8s. «The president has not flown on the foreign helicopters yet», — press-secretary of Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, said, — but the president will use the vehicles owned by Rossiya special aircraft division».
The cost of such helicopter with the basic equipment is assessed at $6-9 million. In future these helicopters will be manufactured in Russia by a Tomilino-based enterprise (Moscow Region). Agusta Westland and Oboronprom Corporation have signed the contract on joint production of the helicopters in 2008 in the presence of Russian prime-minister Vladimir Putin and the head of Italian Cabinet, Silvio Berlusconi.
AugustaWestland has already delivered aircraft for the leaders of other states before. The company has won the tender on production of “number one helicopter” for the president of USA. Ukrainian special aircraft division has leased AW139 helicopter for its president, Viktor Yanukovich. The Italian company is manufacturing not only executive and corporate aircraft, but also combat and military-transport vehicles.
Rossiya special aircraft division operates a few score of aircraft. The president and prime-minister are using Il-96 and Tu-214 jets along with Mi-8 helicopters. Il-62 aircraft are often used as a backup aircraft. The ex-president Dmitry Medvedev approved the acquisition of two Dassault Falcon 7X aircraft. This purchase was explained by insufficient number of Russian airports able to service Il-96 jets and inability of the Russian industry to develop the analogue of the Falcon. It stands to mention that Medvedev is still using the French aircraft.
Airbus Corporate Jet ACJ319 has been purchased for the needs of government officials. In future the Department of Presidential Affairs intends to support the national manufacturers and acquire Тu-214, Тu-204 and Аn-148 jets.