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Indo-Russian joint venture for light military helicopters moves to next stage

Defence acquisition council to examine bid that promises 62 percent technology transfer on platform; production line being readied. The joint venture – the supply 200 of the Kamov Ka 226T choppers to the army and air force – was the first government level defence deal finalised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he came to power.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Feb 06, 2020, 01.06 PM IST
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HAL
Signed in 2015, the estimated $ 1 billion deal has gone through a difficult phase of negotiations, with Indian partner Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Russian Helicopters trying to bring together an acceptable offer on the table. (Representative image)
Lucknow: In the works since 2015, the Indo-Russian joint venture to produce light military helicopters has moved to the next stage with the submission of techno-commercial proposals and will now head for the apex defence acquisition council for a formal go ahead.

MN Srinath, CEO of India Russia Helicopters Limited (IRGL) says that the detailed proposal has been submitted to the ministry of defence and manufacturing facilities at Tumkur (Karnataka) are in the process of construction.

The joint venture – the supply 200 of the Kamov Ka 226T choppers to the army and air force – was the first government level defence deal finalised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he came to power.

Signed in 2015, the estimated $ 1 billion deal has gone through a difficult phase of negotiations, with Indian partner Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Russian Helicopters trying to bring together an acceptable offer on the table.

While the original agreement was to achieve 70 percent indigenisation of the Russian content on the chopper, this has proven to be difficult after years of discussion. Srinath says that the proposal sent to the ministry will achieve over 62 percent of this, including the critical and advanced rotor technology of the Ka 226.

It may be noted that the KA 226T also has major parts, like the engines, from third nations that accounts to 25 percent of the cost. When seen as a whole, the Indian side should be able to achieve just over 40 percent indigenisation by the time the last helicopter is delivered.

As per the timelines, the first 60 choppers will be made in Russia, with deliveries to commence within two years of the contract signing. The Indian facility is expected to roll out the first domestically produced chopper three years after that.

According to original plans, the chopper contract was to be signed in 2016, with the first Indian made helicopters being delivered to the Army by 2021. This has been pushed back by atleast four years as differences were being ironed out.

While HAL will be the prime manufacturer, the project is also expected to have a major contribution by a private sector Indian company as well.

Future plans for the Indian production facility include jointly developing export military and civilian versions of the chopper after meeting domestic demands.
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