In a step that will finally pave way for the replacement of the old Chetak and Cheetah Light Utility Helicopters with the Russian Kamov 226T, Russia has announced its partnership with Reliance Defence, a subsidiary of private sector Indian entity, Reliance Infrastructure.
The twin-engine Russian Kamov 226T was cleared to urgently replace the older helicopters in Indian inventory. These choppers will be manufactured as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet 'Make in India' initiative in India. India had agreed for 197 such helicopters from Russia.
The agreement with Reliance Defence, according to The Economic Times, could make the Indian company a "lead integrator" for the Indian Army. Though there is a mention of an option being open for tying up with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the publish sector defence unit, pending approval from the Government of India.
The Kamov 226T will serve the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force in high altitude areas like Siachen glacier and high temperature areas like Rajasthan desert. It has a service ceiling to around 7,000m and improved engine with new avionics.
There will be transfer of technology to the Indian partner and reports also indicated the machine's manufacture will be sources from local manufactures up to 50 percent.
This will also be the first time a private sector company will be manufacturing military choppers.
"We are committed to actively participating in Prime Minister Modi's 'Make in India' and 'Skill India' programmes," said a spokesperson for Reliance Defence. "The manufacture of both military and civil helicopters to meet the needs of the country is a significant part of this commitment," he added, reported Business Today.
Victor Kladov, head, International Cooperation, Rostec, Russia's biggest government-owned defence company, told The Economic Times that negotiations for Ka 226T was "in their final stage."
Promises Mi-17V-5 Choppers by 2015 End
Russia said on Tuesday that it will be delivering the last three of the previously contracted 151 Mi-17V-5 military transport helicopters to India by the end of 2015.
"As part of the previously signed contract, Russia has supplied 148 Mi-17V-5 helicopters out of 151. We plan to deliver three more by the end of the year. Thus, the contract will be fully implemented by the end of 2015," a spokesperson of the Russian Helicopter designer and manufacturer company told RIA Novosti.
Mi-17V-5 of the Indian Air Force has effectively assisted in various humanitarian missions in flood-affected regions in Gujarat and earthquake relief efforts in Nepal.
India has also announced it will be purchasing an additional 48 Mi-17V-5 choppers.