Russian President Vladimir Putin is yet to give the final approval for setting up an Indo- Russia joint venture to manufacture 200 Kamov military helicopters in India under a USD 1 billion deal inked in 2015. Both India and Russia had finalised the broad agreement for the JV last year following which Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and two Russian defence majors decided to set up the joint venture to produce the multi-role ‘Kamov 226T’ helicopters in India.
However, a final presidential clearance from Moscow for moving ahead is yet to come, causing delay in the ambitious project. As per the original plan, the first Kamov helicopter was to roll out in 2021 but due to the delay in getting clearance, there is now uncertainty over the production schedule.
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“While we have obtained all other clearances for the JV, the Russian presidential clearance is yet to come. The moment it comes, we will move ahead in the project,” a top government official involved in the project said. He said once the joint venture is set up, the Indian government can start interaction with the board members of the new entity on the “depth of technology”, technology transfer, exact number of choppers to be produced in India and other key issues.
The inter-government agreement was signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Russia in December, 2015. Last year in October, Russian Helicopters, Rosoboronexport and HAL Corporation had almost completed formalities for setting up of the joint venture to localise the production of Ka-226Ts and deliver them to the Indian market.
When the JV is registered, it can negotiate the terms with customers and parent companies. The schedule of delivery and localisation as well as the terms and the number of units will be up to the JV to finalise. India is procuring the Kamov choppers to replace the country’s aging Cheetah and Chetak helicopters.