The Russian-built Mi-35M transport/attack helicopter seen here is currently the world's second-fastest military helicopter, behind America's Chinook. Photo: Sputnik via AFP/Vitaliy Timkiv

The prototype for a new high-speed combat helicopter currently under development by Russia’s largest rotocraft manufacturer, Russian Helicopters, is set to debut next year, according to Sergei Chemezov, chief executive of the maker’s parent company, Rostec.

“Next year, we will continue experimental design work. We have developed quite substantial potential. The first flight tests of the experimental helicopter may take place during 2019 or closer to its end,” Chemezov told TASS news agency on Thursday.

If the experimental chopper reaches the speeds of up to 400km/h, cited by Rostec, it will be the fastest helicopter in the world, according to International Business Times. The American Chinook is currently the fastest military helicopter, reaching speeds of up to 315km/h.

Looking to Middle East, India

In a separate story on Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reports that Russian Helicopters is wooing Middle Eastern and Asian buyers as it looks to reduce reliance on orders at home.

“We see meaningful perspective for growth for Russian Helicopters’ sale in Arab countries and in India,” said Kirill Dmitriev, head of Russia’s Direct Investment Fund. The aircraft maker is hoping to compete for a billion-dollar contract with India, which would add to a client list that includes China, Thailand and Egypt.

Last year, Rostec said it sold a 12% stake in Russian Helicopters to a consortium of Arab investors and the Russian state fund. It is looking to sell a further 13% stake this year.

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