Russian Helicopters, part of Rostec State Corporation, has announced that it will be building a prototype of the country's first electric helicopter that will be based on the VRT30, an unmanned tiltrotor aircraft that was unveiled at the XIX World Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi which ran from 14-22 October.
The helicopter, which is expected to be ready in 2019, will have a takeoff weight of 1.5 tonnes and be completely electric, a press release said. The main aim of the company is to create a low noise, zero emissions machine that is efficient and reliable.
General Director of Russian Helicopters Holding Company Andrey Boginsky, said: "We are currently developing a new flying laboratory for a tiltrotor aircraft; its onboard cable network will have high-temperature superconductivity technologies, which will improve properties of the prototype such as weight, dimensions and handling qualities."
Tiltrotor aircraft is something that the US has developed over the years. Called the Osprey, it has the advantage of both aircraft as well as helicopters. Last month, it was seen performing drills along with Japan. Apart from full-sized aircraft, the US Army is also working on a drone that has tilt rotor capabilities.
Russian versions will also have similar advantages. Helicopters do not need runways to land, making them easy to operate in several environments. They can also hover over a spot, dropping off troops and supplies. What they lack, however, is speed and manoeuvrability which aircraft have; tiltrotors manage both these tasks.
If the project comes to fruition, it could be the first military, heavy lift helicopter that is completely electric. In October 2016, Fortune reported on the world's first manned battery-powered chopper, but it was able to stay in the air only for five minutes.
IBTimes UK has reached out to the company for further information on the project. This article will be updated in the event of a response.