Russia will push India to buy 200 Kamov KA-226T light utility helicopters during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's trip to country next week. The negotiations between the two countries are expected to pick up pace in the $1 billion joint manufacturing deal, which is already delayed by almost a year.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will be hosting Narendra Modi for bilateral talks at the Eastern Economic Forum. Modi is the chief guest of this annual gathering in Vladivostok, which invites the global political and industrial leader to promote investment in the eastern region of Russia which is full of untapped resources.
"We are hopeful that this meeting between President Putin and Prime Minister Modi will bring new development in our KA-226T project. A major push will be made definitely. All technical and commercial talks are already finished. All RFPs (request for proposals) done; twice already. But then until now, the contract is not signed. Quite obviously this question will be discussed in Vladivostok," Victor N Kladov, director for international co-operation and regional policy at Rostec said, according to the ToI. Rostec is the Russian government-owned conglomerate which oversees Russian defence and advanced defence manufacturing companies, including the manufacturers of KA-226T choppers.
The Indian government has been looking to replace Soviet-era fleet which has been servicing Indian Air Force and Indian Army. India signed an agreement with Russia to procure Kamov helicopters during Modi's 2015 Russia visit. As per the agreement, Russia agreed to supply 60 Kamov choppers in a fly-away condition and assemble the rest in India jointly with state-run aeronautical firm Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The Kamov 226T helicopters have a unique capability of operating in dense urban areas to mountainous regions such as Siachen.
The final orders are now delayed by almost a year. "In February Russian Helicopter signed five separate contracts with vendors which are private Indian companies who will be supplying units and parts for the KA-226T. We are moving towards the Make in India programme. Many components and parts will be produced domestically in India. HAL will be the main partner. Down the line, we will invite more and more Indian partners," Kaldov further added. India aims to support its local manufacturing with this deal as its local vendors will supply components such as fuselage, blades and landing gear.