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Russian Helicopters is planning to create the world's first fifth-generation combat helicopter which experts say would be able to attack fighter jets and be invisible for radars, Russian daily Gazeta said on Thursday.
"We are working on the concept of the fifth-generation combat helicopter," the paper quoted the company's CEO, Andrei Shibitov, as saying at a news conference in Moscow.
Shibitov did not specify the characteristics of the helicopter, but said the company was going to spend some $1 billion on the project, with more investment expected to be allocated from the state budget.
First deputy head of the Russian Academy of Geopolitical Problems, Konstantin Sivkov, told the paper fifth-generation combat helicopters have never been created before, although the U.S. recently began working on a similar project.
He said criteria for a fifth-generation combat helicopter say it must be radar invisible, have an extended flying range, be equipped with an intellectual arms control system, be able to combat fighter jets (existing helicopters are generally only intended to hit ground-based targets) and reach a speed of up to 500-600 km/h (310-370 mph).
The project cannot proceed, however, unless it is backed by the government.
"If the government does not sign a contract, the idea will die on the vine," head of the Russian Academy of Geopolitical Problems Leonid Ivashov told Gazeta.
Ivashov said that with sufficient investment and good organization the new helicopter could be built within five years. Otherwise, the project may drag on for 20-30 years.
But he sounded skepticism about chances to carry out the project.
"We have been snatching at everything - fifth-generation planes, fifth-generation helicopters, but nothing of this have so far been supplied to the army - today the army uses helicopters produced in 1970s," Ivashov said.
MOSCOW, May 13 (RIA Novosti)
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.