The Ka-226T has superior manoeuvring capabilities

by Nayanima Basu

Russian Helicopters is willing to offer its mainstay choppers Kamov-226T, or Ka-226T, for the $3-billion light Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH) programme of the Indian Navy, which aims to replace the vintage fleet of Cheetah and Chetak choppers.

“The Navy placed a tender for NUH for 100 units [111]. They can consider purchasing the Ka-226T because we already have a programme and the option of folding blades, which is one of their requirements,” Andrey Boginsky, CEO, Russian Helicopters, told BusinessLine.

Make in India Plan

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, gave its approval to execute the order on October 31. Under the plan, which will be executed under the ‘Make in India’ plan, 16 choppers will be bought off the shelf, while the remaining 95 will be built in India by a domestic firm, in collaboration with a foreign manufacturer.

The choppers will be procured under the ‘Strategic Partnership’ Policy within the framework of Defence Procurement Procedure 2016.

Under this policy, the Ministry of Defence will identify and shortlist the Indian firm that will manufacture these choppers and facilitate its joint venture with a foreign OEM.

According to Boginsky, Rosoboronexport, the Russian state-run nodal agency for military exports, will be participating in the tender process of the Indian Navy. “This project will carry synergies from the first project of Kamov…If India decides on it, this will drastically reduce the maintenance cost as that will have a synergetic effect from the first project of 200,” he added.

Advantages of Ka-226T

Ka-226T is a light multi-purpose, twin-engine helicopter based on the Ka-226 designed by Kamov Design Bureau. It has superior manoeuvring capabilities in cities and mountainous areas, and allows a number of payload configurations and requires less landing space.

“I am sure our product will meet the requirements. I would also like to state that if we are going to win this tender then we will meet the requirements of the tender and meet the deadline,” said Boginsky.

India and Russia signed an inter-governmental agreement (IGA) in 2015 to procure 200 units of Ka-226T, out of which 140 will be made in India.

Russian Helicopters has also entered into a JV with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for co-development and co-production of the Ka-226T multi-role military choppers. The commercial contract is expected to be signed early next year.

However, for the Navy’s programme, the government is yet to begin the process of identifying the domestic manufacturers and their foreign partners.