In a major addition to the Indian Navy's surveillance, the Ministry of Defence has approved the procurement of 10 Kamov Ka-31 Airborne Early Warning and Control helicopters. The total cost of the deal is expected to be around Rs 3,600 crore and 10 helicopters would be deployed on the aircraft carriers and warships including the INS Vikrant and Grigorovich-class frigates. Currently, apart from Russia, India and China use the chopper for its Navy. The main utility of the Ka-31 is a long-range detection airborne and naval threats.
The helicopter has the ability to track targets over the much larger horizon than ship's radars. The helicopter provides an important completion for the naval task force, whose ships are too small to operate carrier-borne early warning aircraft. Moreover, the Ka-31 is also capable of carrying out operations in the sea and anti-submarine warfare operations.
Notably, the Indian Navy already has a fleet of Russian Kamov-28 and US made Sea-king choppers which were inducted in the service way back in the 1980s and require upgrades for future use. The election season has not affected the daily operations of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) and Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). The meetings are being held as per the plans to clear the important acquisitions for the forces.
Going forward, the deal would be tabled for negotiations with the Russian counterparts post the cabinet committee on security would take up the final call. Apparently, Indian defence forces are on modernisation spree where the equipment across tri-services is being upgraded. In March, India decided to procure assault rifles, ammunition, and several other specialised types of equipment from the United States. Para (SF), Marcos and Garud commandos are the special forces of India Army, Navy and Air force respectively. Moreover, the India Air Force has also inducted the first squadron of the US made "Chinook" heavy-lift chopper.