January 29, 2012:
The Russian Air Force is buying 30 Ka-226 transport helicopters. This is a 3.4 ton twin engine chopper with a crew of one and able to carry 1.4 tons of cargo or nine passengers. Cruising speed is 195 kilometers an hour and endurance is three hours. Its unique feature is that the passenger compartment is actually an easily replaceable module. You can slip one in for passengers, cargo, or specialized equipment. Many paramilitary organizations in Russia also want to buy Ka-226s and will do so as soon as they get the money. Ka-226s cost about $4 million each and the air force needs these helicopters to replace the aging Cold War era models that are inoperable most of the time.
Kamov, the manufacturer, has a good reputation but the Ka-226 (a twin engine version of the similar Ka-26) was in development at the end of the Cold War. Work was halted during most of the 1990s and the Ka-226 did not enter service (mainly with Russian police) until 2002. Until recently, sales were slow. But now there's an export order (six for Jordan) and more orders from Russian military and commercial users. It's not just the Russian Air Force that is having problems with helicopters dying of old age.