The government of India has requested for higher indigenization content in the Kamov-226T light utility choppers that will be jointly manufactured in the country with Russia. The Kamovs is seen as the replacement for the military's log serving Cheetah and Chetak helicopters. As per a report in English daily Hindustan Times, India has told Russia to review the exiting level of indigenisation, which stand at 60% to take the local content of the Ka-226Ts which is scheduled to be manufactured in Bengaluru-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
The two countries had signed a deal in 2018 at India Russia summit to jointly manufacture 200 Kamov 226T choppers. The chopper is a twin-engine multipurpose utility helicopter with a maximum take-off weight of 3.6 tons. Kamov-226Ts can carry up to one-ton payload with a maximum speed of 220 Km/hr. The helicopter can carry up to six people. The machine has excellent manoeuvrability and handling, easy maintenance as claimed by the Russian manufacturers. India Russia incorporated the Indo-Russian Helicopters Limited (IRHL) in 2017, a joint venture between HAL and Russian Helicopters and Rosoborobexport for the manufacturing and supply of around 200 Kamov helicopters. Out of these 200 choppers 60 is expected to be supplied directly from Russia in flyway condition and rest are to be manufactured in at the state-owned HAL.
One of the officials privy to the development said, "We are waiting to hear from them as to how a higher level of indigenisation can be facilitated. That has caused some delay. The final number of helicopters could also be reworked based on the response from the Russian side." Notably, HAL has a 50.5% ownership of the joint venture apart from Russian Helicopters owning 42.5% and Rosoboronexport, 7%.
Why India is seeking higher inclusion of locally available components?
Modi government's ambitious 'Make in India' programme has been facing major setbacks in the recent past with no major manufacturing deal signed that is helpful for its local manufacturers. If the negotiations end in favour of India, it is expected to give a much-needed push to its local manufacturing which is teetering under economic slowdown. Air Vice-Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (retd), additional director general, Centre for Air Power Studies said, "The Ka-226 has been awaited for long as the Chetak-Cheetah fleet has been overworked and is showing signs of age, witnessed by a large number of incidents that are happening. A high indigenous content should be insisted upon as part of our drive to get manufacturing in India."