Qatar has announced it will be spending $3.71bn (€3bn) to buy 28 military helicopters, its latest high-profile defence purchase during a bitter diplomatic crisis with its Gulf neighbours. The deal for the NH90 helicopters was announced on Wednesday by Qatar's defence ministry at a military hardware conference in Doha. Mashout Faisal Al Hajri, commander of the Emiri Air Force helicopter wing, said the deal "will contribute greatly to enhancing the capabilities and efficiency" of Qatar's air force, according to Qatar News Agency. Italian defence contractor Leonardo will act as the main contractor in the deal, although it was officially signed with the NHI consortium, which also includes Airbus and Dutch aircraft manufacturer Fokker. "We are proud to have signed this contract that expands and continues Leonardo's strong and long-term partnership with Qatar," said Alessandro Profumo, Leonardo's chief executive.
Rescuers in Thailand are searching for an air force helicopter a day after contact was lost during heavy rains. Radar contact with the Bell UH-1 helicopter with three crewmen aboard was lost Saturday afternoon and an initial search was suspended due to the rains. Air force spokesman Air Vice Marshal Pongsak Semachai said Sunday that the helicopter was on a mission to resupply a radar station in Chanthaburi province, 215 kilometers (134 miles) east of Bangkok. It began its mission at a base in Lopburi, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) northeast of the capital.
A Russian commercial helicopter flying from the Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk crashed shortly after take-off, killing 18 people aboard on Saturday. The helicopter, operated by Utair airline, was carrying 15 passengers and three crew members and all were confirmed dead, the Russian news agency TASS quoted an emergency service source as saying. The transport ministry said the Mi-8 helicopter, reportedly taking workers to an oilfield, went down when it collided with machinery carried by another helicopter soon after take-off. The second aircraft landed safely and the accident took place in "normal" weather conditions, according to preliminary findings. "After take-off, according to early reports, the Mi-8 carrying passengers knocked into the external cargo of the other helicopter, for reasons unknown.
And, finally, attendees could spot the aerospace efforts of a China-Russia partnership. The Mi-46 heavy-lift transport helicopter, which made an appearance at the exposition, has a maximum takeoff weight of 38.7 tons, a 15-ton external payload, and a range of about 500 miles. This puts its capabilities roughly in line with the U.S. Marine Corps' CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter. Chinese forces would use the Mi46 for combat and supply operations at high altitudes, as well as long-distance amphibious assault operations and for battlefield supply and transport missions. It's also the right size to be based on the future Type 075 landing helicopter dock warship, which will be deployed for both humanitarian and combat operations at sea.
One of four crew members from a missing coastguard helicopter has been rescued off the west coast of the Republic of Ireland. The man is understood to be in a critical condition. Those on board lost contact at about 01:00 local time on Tuesday. A search by helicopters, an Aer Corps plane and local fishing boats is now under way about six miles to the west of Black Sod in County Mayo. The aircraft was providing cover for another coastguard helicopter on a mission when contact was lost.