With the government clearing the mega-project to acquire 111 helicopters for the Indian Navy, a leading Russian manufacturer wants the Navy to try its Kamov 226T helicopter, saying the chopper aptly meets the force’s needs. “We think of the Kamov Ka-226T JV with India as a synergistic project with further possibilities. For instance, the Indian Navy has recently announced a tender for delivery of 100 (111) helicopters with a mass of up to 5 tonnes. We think it might be good move for Indian ministry for defence to save their money and purchase Kamov 226T with its latest modifications, because we already have solutions of folding blades in the place. “And of course following the framework of Make in India project we will be actively involved in localising the assembly and production of this helicopter on Indian soil,” CEO of Russian Helicopters Andrey Boginisky told a visiting foreign media delegation last night. Under the Indo-Russia joint venture to produce 200 Kamov 226T helicopters for the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force, 60 choppers will be supplied to India in fly-away condition, while the remaining 140 will be manufactured in India under a USD 1 billion deal inked in 2015.
In October last year, India and Russia finalised a broad agreement for the joint venture between Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and two Russian defence majors. India is procuring Kamov choppers to replace its ageing fleet of Cheetah and Chetak helicopters. The agreement for the Kamov choppers was signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Russia in December, 2015.
Last year, Russian Helicopters, Rosoboronexport and HAL had almost completed the formalities for the joint venture to localise the production of Ka-226Ts and deliver them to the Indian market. The joint venture was registered in May, 2017. Stressing that Ka-226T meets the requirements of the Indian Navy, Boginisky clarified that the Navy’s project for 111 helicopters is a separate project and is not related to the Ka-226T project of the Indo-Russian JV to produce 200 Kamov helicopters. He added that selecting the Ka-226T for the Navy could help the Indian government save a lot of money, as there would be cost reduction due to sharing of service facilities, training for flight and maintenance and other related costs. “Given the first project, this could be an advantageous option for India, as it would already have facilities for maintenance,” he said.
When asked about the export prospects of Mi-8/17 and Mi- 171 helicopters, Boginisky said, “We consider that the export potential of these machines is still there. It is proven by a deep modernisation to develop the Mi-171A2 model, which includes more than 80 changes and improvements to the platform. The Indian Ministry of Defence uses many helicopters of this family. It is very reliable and easy to use in any conditions”.