The Indo-Russian Ka-226T Helicopter project could become a future model for protection of Russian intellectual property (IP) while transferring technology to international partners for local manufacture and assembly.

In order to increase revenues from the commercialization of Russian intellectual property, state-owned arms export agency, Rosoboronexport (RoE) has developed methodologies for assessing the cost of technology transfer. However, fear of Russian technology being copied or reverse engineered remain.

In this context, RoE has for the first time developed methodologies for IP protection along with smooth transfer of technology (TOT) and implemented it in the KA-226 project with India.

Based on its India experience, Rosoboronexport has made recommendations (for IP protection during technology transfer to foreign partners) in future international projects.

"The methodology described in the recommendations has already been tested, and is being applied in the course of realization of a joint project with the Russian Helicopters to transfer technologies for the production of the Ka-226T helicopter in India. Rosoboronexport and Russian Helicopters have approved a roadmap with specific activities and areas of responsibility, and are following it," said RoE General Director Alexander Mikheev at a meeting of the Foreign Trade Activity Committee of the Union of Russian Machine Builders (URMB) on May 26. The URMB is dedicated to the protection of intellectual property of Russian defence companies.

During the meeting, the first vice-president of URMB, Vladimir Gutenev noted that today the Russian manufacturer is subject to sanctions pressure, even under previously executed contracts, besides in financial settlements. “At the same time, there is a growing desire on the part of customers to carry out transfers and localize technologies. In export it is often necessary to refine not only products, but also design and technological documentation,” he stressed.

Due to weak IP protection, Russian defence entities are at risk of having their products reverse-engineered, particularly in countries such as China which have a strong manufacturing base. The China-made Shenyang J-11/16 fighter jets bear a striking resemblance to the Russian Sukhoi Su-27 while the carrier-based Shenyang J-15 squares up with the Sukhoi Su-33 which was designed for carrier operation.

Former Soviet states such as Ukraine offer maintenance and overhaul services for older generation Russian equipment without approval from the original equipment manufacturer. In December 2020, Russian Helicopters had warned that Ukrainian enterprises repairing its Mi-17V-5 helicopters in service with the Afghan Air Force might endanger lives of crew as they lacked the necessary technical documentation.

Vladimir Gutenev also said that when the customer demands 100% localization of technologies, the issues of preventing the leakage of Russian technologies arise. These factors make a comprehensive approach to solving the issue of organizing ToT and the development of the current legislation both in the field of military-technical cooperation and in the field of intellectual property protection relevant.

At DefExpo 2020 expo in Lucknow Russian Helicopters had signed a roadmap with Indo-Russian Helicopters Limited (IRHL) for the production of Ka-226T helicopters in India. The document defines the main stages and terms for organizing production of the Ka-226T helicopter and its units in India with respect to the date when the corresponding contract will be signed.

The roadmap reflects the timing of preparation of production in India, contracting with suppliers, transfer of design documentation, supply of technological equipment and machine kits, training of Indian personnel and other key stages of the project to localize production of the Ka-226T helicopter in India.

“The roadmap signed today will become the basis for the further development of the Ka-226T localization project in India after the contract is signed,” said Andrey Boginsky, General Director of the Russian Helicopters holding.

In the autumn of 2020 discussed the Russian-Indian Ka-226T project in an interview with Konstantin Makienko, the deputy director of the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST), an independent Russian think tank. He pointed out, that the program was "a unique chance for India to master a number of crucial helicopter engineering technologies, including the unique coaxial rotors scheme."