Russian firm, HAL to join hands to make helicopters

Russia’s Rosoboron export is joining hands with India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to manufacture Ka-226T ‘Kamov’ helicopters. The strategic move, in line with the Make in India campaign, comes after defence minister Mr. Manohar Parrikar-led Defence Acquisition Council last week approved the Russian proposal to manufacture 200 Kamov helicopters in India. Sources told FE that other than HAL, which would be the primary partner,  a few small and mid-sized Indian entities would also be a part of the helicopter manufacturing programme, which would be based on 100% transfer of technology from Moscow. Under the approved proposal, India would initially make around 200 Ka-226T helicopters, but the cost of the transfer of technology to make the helicopters in India would be made known later, said an MoD official after the DAC meet. The initial number of 200 helicopters is expected to go up to 400 and would also be available for exports after fulfilling the requirements of the Indian Army and the Air Force. In August 2014, the ministry of defence had cancelled a $1-billion tender to buy 197 light utility helicopters in which Airbus Helicopters AS550 was competing with Kamov’s Ka-226T. It was the second time the light helicopter tender was cancelled by India. From the 197 helicopters — 131 were for the Army Aviation and the rest 66 for the Air Force. Besides, another tender for Naval Utility Helicopters, under which 56 were to be bought, too, got cancelled. When Russian president Mr. Vladmir Putin visited India in December 2014, he made the offer to make the Ka-226T helicopters entirely in India and Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi had agreed to consider it. After several round of discussions spanning over six months between the two sides, the final shape for the deal came through in April 2015, according to MoD sources. These Ka-226T helicopters fitted with two Arrius engines from Turbomeca Company will be used by the IAF and the Indian Army for its high altitude operations, especially in Siachen Glacier, not only for carrying supply, but also casualty evacuation. This machine will replace the Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, used by the Indian Army at present. Sources also said the Indian Navy’s plan to procure over 100 Naval Utility Helicopters is on track and a separate process for which the request for proposal (RFP) is in the last stage of finalisation. The 100 helicopters that would become part of the Indian Navy are under the ‘buy and make’ category of the Defence Procurement Procedure 2013, where the company would buy a foreign design that would be assembled in India by local partners. Companies, including Tata group, Mr. Anil Ambani’s group firm Reliance Defence and Aerospace, Axis Aerospace, Bharat Forge, Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) and Larsen & Tubro, are among those who have sent in details about the original equipment manufacturer to the ministry of defence.

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