Rostec bats for HAL

The company says HAL has the expertise and experience in building the best

Yunus Dar

Viktor Kladov, director for International Cooperation and Regional Policy at Rostec spoke to FORCE on the sidelines of Aero India 2019 at Bengaluru, about the company’s outlook on the emerging business atmosphere in India, especially the trend in the promotion of domestic private players.

Director, International Cooperation and Regional Policy, Rostec, Viktor Kladov during a press interaction at Aero India 2019

On the controversy over Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in India, Kladov said, “We hear a lot about smaller defence companies declare ‘we would like to assemble Ka-226T helicopters’. But let’s see the reality, the reality is that the only Indian company fit enough to produce aircraft is still HAL. If we take other Indian companies, state or private companies, they will have to start from scratch. It’s a green field. We have to invest billions to start production.”

Kladov said the Russian government had conveyed to his Indian counterpart during the meeting at the show, saying they still choose HAL as major partner over the others. “Yesterday there was a discussion between our minister and your minister and knowing there is a current trend talking about private companies, he explained to the minister. He told him, please excuse us, we may not be in line with your stress, with your emphasis on the private sector. But we still choose HAL as a partner to co-produce MiG-35. Why? Because they have been producing Sukhoi-30 for many years. They have got skilled personnel. They have got the engineers. They have got designers and facilities already there.

“Once they finish assembling the Su-30 aircraft, what else will they do? They can start producing MiG-35. If we sign up with any other company, it will take another five years. We will have to invest billions to build the factory, starting from the foundation, bringing equipment. It’s a waste of time in the first place. That’s our approach,” he reasoned.

However, Kladov said they will eventually work in smaller industries as they develop capabilities to manufacture high value equipment. “Let’s say Ka-226T, yesterday we signed five agreements with five local private companies. They are going to be vendors. Assembly line will be HAL, but producing parts and components like tail, wheels, blades, and avionics will be local private companies. So, we are inviting private companies. Once they have the ability, not just the ambition.”

Commenting on Ambani-led defence company who are increasingly participating in major defence manufacturing, Kladov said, “With due respect that he is a financial tycoon, he once wanted to produce the frigates. Do you have any shipyard? No. I can buy one. Do you have the money to buy one? I will borrow from the bank and buy one. That’s not the approach. We need a company which has got enough professional approach, enough experience. So, we chose the Goa Shipyard because it is able to do it.”

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