Russian Helicopters, part of State Corporation Rostec and the only helicopter design and production powerhouse in Russia, has evinced keen interest in the Indian Navy’s tender for purchase of 111 utility helicopters. The company is readying an advanced batch of the ship-based Ka-226T rotorcraft version, and has pitched it for the Indian Navy’s tender for armed light naval utility helicopters weighing no more than five tonnes.

Russian Helicopters CEO Andrey Boginsky
While 16 helicopters are expected to be procured in a fly-away condition, the remaining 95 are to be built in India by a foreign OEM and an Indian partner via a joint venture (JV) since it involves significant technology transfers. Russian Helicopters CEO Andrey Boginsky says the company’s existing JV with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd would be a strong advantage, with both parties benefiting from the value creation and synergies of scale. In an interview to BusinessLine, the CEO highlights the unique blade folding system in the shipborne Ka-226T, claiming that it will decimate the cut-throat competition around the Indian Navy’s tender. Excerpts:

Have you responded to the new RFI from the Indian Navy for the purchase of helicopters?

Yes. Taking into account the amount of work done and the progress in localising the manufacture of Ka-226T helicopters in India, we decided to take part in the (new) tender for the supply of light helicopters for the Indian Navy.

(Russian Helicopters bagged an earlier order and is to deliver 200 units of the Ka-226T rotorcraft to India)

Could you detail the advantages that Russian Helicopters’ Ka-226T has over competitors Airbus, Lockheed Martin and Bell Helicopters, all of whom are keen on the Indian Navy’s RFI.

Russian Helicopters has a unique expertise and competence in making helicopters with ship-based configuration. A coaxial main rotor scheme of Ka-226T is a distinctive feature of the Kamov brand, and mass production of these helicopters has been mastered only in Russia. This design provides a number of competitive advantages. First of all, it facilitates piloting, ensures ideal stability and manoeuvrability in crosswinds, which is crucial when landing on board a ship. Moreover, coaxial helicopters are smaller, which makes it possible to place more helicopters on board the ship.

I would also like to point out that the ship-based configuration of the Ka-226T helicopter has already been supplied to Russian customers and is successfully operated in Russia for special purpose aviation.

What is your trump card? How do you propose to beat the competition?

Specialists of the holding company have developed a blade folding system of the main rotor, and have equipped the helicopter with the latest avionics suite and prepared all the systems and assemblies for operation even in harsh marine environment.

Russian Helicopters is also ready to offer ‘one-stop-shop’ services to the customer (Indian Navy).

After-sales support, arranged in accordance with this principle, will relieve the customer from interacting with different suppliers, and significantly speed up processing of requests and service provision, as well as eliminate the possibility of using counterfeit spare parts.

Several Indian companies have also submitted proposals relating to the manufacture of the helicopters. Have you decided who will be your partner in India if Russian Helicopters gets the contract?

We have proposed that this (new) order be placed with the Russian and Indian joint venture Indo-Russian Helicopters Pvt Ltd, which is involved in the supply, localisation and the manufacture of 200 Ka-226T helicopters for the Ministry of Defence.

It complies with the ‘Make in India’ policy and will ensure the loading and future development of the JV. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, which is one of the largest producers of aviation equipment in India, is the Indian partner of Russian Helicopters in the Indo-Russian Helicopters JV.

Our JV will carry out final assembly and repair of helicopters, and will integrate the supply chain in India.

This project also has obvious economic advantages. The Indian corporate may benefit from the investments in the JV more, support the local producers and save money, as it will be much cheaper to carry out the maintenance of one type of helicopter fleet and accordingly train the staff.

Are you willing to include full transfer of technology for the manufacture of these helicopters?

The project on localisation of Ka-226T manufacture in India provides for technology transfer. If this helicopter is selected, the Indian party will get the technologies for producing its ship-based configuration.