by Sareth Kailas Kumaresan

With Russian President Vladimir Putin finally giving the go ahead for setting up an Indo-Russian joint venture to produce the Kamov (Ka-226) military helicopters as per a $1 billion-dollar deal inked in 2015, the Indian military is finally set to get a reprieve from its critical helicopter shortage.

India has ordered 200 of the Ka-226 utility helicopters, the first of which, will begin delivery in 2019. The Ka-226, unlike conventional helicopters has an interchangeable mission pod, rather than a conventional cabin, allowing many different configurations according to the mission, making it truly a utility helicopter.

The light, twin-engine yet multi-role chopper offers flexibility for military purposes and for civilian purposes. The chopper is intended to replace the ageing fleet of Cheetah and Chetak helicopters which have recently been running into many technical snags.

Apart from replacing and bolstering the old utility helicopter fleet, Russian Helicopters, the company which makes the Ka-226 says that the military variant can work effectively in extreme and difficult weather conditions. This will include hot climate, marine areas and mountainous terrain, making it a perfect fit for the diverse terrains of the Indian subcontinent.

The Helicopter can also be effectively used for reconnaissance, targeting and monitoring and transportation of equipment unto 1.5 tonnes. Interchangeable and mission specific pods also mean the chopper can carry up to seven paratroopers and security personnel increasing mobility of assets and increasing the Indian militaries surgical strike capabilities.

Kamov-226 has a top speed of 250 kmp/h and has been refined from the old and proven Ka-26 helicopter, with a refined rotor system, increased nose visibility and a new passenger cabin design. The aircraft is also made of composite materials, making it light and with a new transmission system and twin coaxial rotors, making it highly manoeuvrable. The chopper also has Medivac, disaster relief and patrol variant mission pods for the military and air ambulance, police and fire fighting variants have also been designed for civilian purposes

With the addition of this new, reliable and proven chopper, the military is definitely set to get a boost to its operational capabilities within the next few years.

Sareth Kailas Kumaresan is an aviation expert. This piece was written by him exclusively for IDN. Views expressed are his own. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of IDN and IDN does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same