Promises to be Kept

Ka-226T programme is the biggest export projects of the Russian aviation industry

Alexander Mladenov

Moscow: The India-Russia deal for Ka-226T helicopter is among the biggest export projects of the Russian aviation industry. With all details of the contract for delivery of 200 helicopters finally agreed upon between the parties in early 2018, it was expected that this would be inked in the first quarter of the year. This, however, never happened, and now it is expected that the contract for Ka-226T could be sealed by the year-end.

Russia’s Kamov-226T light helicopter


Ka-226T selected for Indian requirements

In May 2015, the 3.6-tonne Ka-226T coaxial-helicopter was selected by New Delhi’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) as the winner in a rather protracted and hotly contested Indian ministry of defence (MoD) tender for the purchase of 200 light utility helicopters, where it competed against Eurocopter AS350C3 (now re-designated as the H125). The new utility helicopters are primarily intended to replace the existing fleet of Indian-built Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Chetak (license-built Aérospatiale SA316 Alouette III) and Cheetah (license-built Aérospatiale SA315B Lama) models operated by the Indian Army Aviation Corps (IAAC) and Indian Air Force (IAF). The new helicopters are desperately needed for logistics operations at high altitude — including re-supply at forward military posts of the Indian military set up on Siachen Glacier and Tibet border.

The vendor in this deal is Russia’s arms export agency Rosobornexport, and the total price of the contract will exceed USD1 billion. The mega-programme is being implemented under an intergovernmental agreement signed by Russia and India in October 2016.

Nearly 140 of these Ka-226Ts will be produced locally under the ‘Make in India’ initiative by the Indian-Russian joint-venture company, while the initial 60 helicopters will be built in Russia at the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant (U-UAP) in eastern Siberia.

The main contractor responsible for the Ka-226T production in India will be the joint venture company established between Russian Helicopters and the Indian aerospace company HAL in May 2017. It was eventually agreed between the partners that Russian Helicopters will hold a 49.5 per cent stake in the joint venture, while HAL will take the remaining 50.5 per cent. In addition to helicopter production, the joint venture, named Indo-Russian Helicopter Pvt Ltd (IRHL), will also deal with maintenance, repair and overhaul of the delivered helicopters, in addition to the provision of training services.

In April 2018 a statement by Russian Helicopters hinted that HAL and Russian Helicopters have finalised the technical configuration of the Ka-226T multirole helicopters for the Indian military. Currently, both Kamov (the design authority) and U-UAP are busy with preparation of the Ka-226T production process for India using the Ka-226T design certified in 2015 in Russia as a baseline. Manufacture of the first Ka-226T parts at U-UAP was launched in June 2017. Plans foresee an initial production at U-UAP of three helicopters and two fuselages to be used for testing purposes.

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