China's lunar exploration plans 'more ambitious than U.S. in 60s'
Strengthened China and Russia cooperation in aviation and space technologies, including helicopters and rocket engines, will benefit both countries which have strong complementarities in these areas, experts said, while warning that it will take more mutual trust between the two governments to see full benefits.
China and Russia have made progress in talks to produce a new model of heavy-lift helicopters. The two sides have reached a consensus on technical terms, splitting up responsibilities, and a roadmap to implement the project, said Huang Chuanyue on Wednesday, deputy chief engineer of Avicopter, the helicopter arm of the State-owned Aviation Industry Corp, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Avicopter and Russian Helicopters agreed to cooperate on the project in 2015. A year later, the two governments signed a deal, giving the project the go-ahead, Huang said at a helicopter industry forum in the city of Tianjin.
Huang said the new helicopter will be made primarily to meet the needs of Chinese clients. The helicopter will be designed with a take-off weight of 38 tons, with internal cargo capacity of 10 tons and an external sling capacity of 15 tons.
"It will be able to fly over plateaus higher than 3,000 meters and maneuver among mountains … and the helicopter will be fitted with aero-engines on par with those on Russia's Mi-26," Huang said.
"In the aviation sector, China and Russia can cooperate in many areas. Apart from helicopters, which are a shortcoming in China, the two are also cooperating in other areas like the C929 wide-body passenger jet," said Song Zhongping, a Beijing-based military industry expert.
"Russia has advantages in areas like engine and body design, while China does well in avionics and financing, so the cooperation will be sustainable and it will impact the global aircraft market and shake the West's status in this field," he noted.
In aerospace, China and Russia look set to sign a cooperation treaty for 2018-2022 in October. According to news site cri.cn, the cooperation will cover areas like rocket engines, Earth-sensing technology, special materials, satellites, and exploration on the moon and deep space.
"China and Russia have unique advantages in aerospace. Russia has great advantages in rocket engines - even the US imports rocket engines from Russia, as in the Soviet days, it had already gained valuable experience on running and developing a space station," Wang Yanan, chief editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, previously told the Global Times.
China is progressing steadily on space station development and lunar exploration, and China has a stable and sustainable financial base, so these will bring great potentials to Sino-Russian aerospace cooperation, Wang said.
Sino-Russian cooperation projects will also be open to other countries. According to TASS, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics Andrei Ionin believes that "considering the Western sanctions imposed on Russia," new potential partners should also include, in the first place, other BRICS countries "and also, possibly, Indonesia, the UAE, Vietnam, Iran and others."
However, the cooperation on exploration might not directly lead to cooperation on exploitation and usage, since this needs really high mutual trust, Wang added.
China's lunar plans are more ambitious than the US in the 1960s. China's goal is not merely sending people to land on the moon, but will prepare for exploitation and even the construction of a lunar base, so this will link to the strategic interests of the country, Wang said.
"Further cooperation depends on the political and strategic mutual trust between these two major space powers," he said.