This Ka-226T was displayed at the recent MAKS airshow in Moscow. India will acquire 200 in the country’s first major private helicopter venture (photo: Vladimir Karnozov)
The inter-government deal between Russia and its client India for procurement of 40 locally-assembled flyaway and 160 locally-manufactured Kamov Ka-226T helicopters is gaining steam. India's Reliance Defence Ltd took possession last month of 86 acres to set up its helicopter assembly and components manufacturing facility at the Multi-modal International Cargo Hub at Nagpur Airport in Maharashtra state. The Indian government’s decision not to give this large order to Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is to ensure “all the eggs are not in one basket,” said an Indian defense ministry official.
The contract is expected to be signed at the annual Russia-India summit meeting in December. Outline agreement was reached at the last summit, where Indian prime minister Narendra Modi expressed satisfaction that Russia had agreed to license production of “one of its most advanced helicopters” to India, and looked forward to “the possibility of exports.” Then, last May, India’s Defense Acquisition Council approved the Ka-226Ton a non-tender basis to meet the Reconnaissance and Surveillance Helicopter (RSH) requirement, which had been variously issued, competed and postponed for 12 years.
Reliance expects the first phase of its new facility to be ready by early 2017. The blueprint seen by AIN includes numerous bays for helicopter maintenence, repair and overhaul (MRO). It is next to the recently-inaugurated Boeing-Air India MRO facility. Reliance is creating a 375-acre aerospace park at Nagpur Airport that will facilitate indigenous manufacturing of aerospace components by tier one and two companies under the government’s ‘Make in India’ program. Reliance is also training people and has tie-ups with some of the 48 engineering colleges and 50 technical training institutes in Nagpur.
Under an agreement between Reliance Helicopters, Russian Helicopters and Russian defense export agency Rosoboronexport, Reliance will be the lead integrator for licensed production of the Ka-226T. A value addition of 30 percent will be provided for the first 40 helicopters for which an assembly plant will be set up, and 50 percent for the co-produced helicopters for which Reliance and its partners will set up component manufacturing and assembly of ‘golden parts’ to include avionics, gearboxes, transmission and engine rotor blades, AINhas learned.
The contractual requirement for the Ka-226T project will include full lifecycle and integrated support, a previous shortcoming in Indo-Russian deals. “MRO challenges in the region are a hard nut to crack. The existing in-houseMRO centers for the Indian Air Force certainly will not be able to cope with the increased number of helicopters,” noted Anatolij Legenzov, CEO of Lithuanian MRO specialist Helisota. Russian Helicopters has proposed an after-sales service support program through long-term contracts. It has also said it would look at the supply of advanced ground support systems and checkout equipment.