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A contract for 200 Ka-226T light helicopters for the Indian armed forces is stalled as negotiations over indigenous content have yet to be resolved.

The Ka-226T, built by Russian Helicopters, was selected to meet a long-running Indian requirement for 200 Reconnaissance and Surveillance Helicopters (RSH) in May 2015. The first of 60 fly-away helicopters are to be be delivered within 36 months of contract signature, with the last of 140 locally-assembled aircraft to be delivered within eight years. Assembly of the Ka-226T helicopters in India will take place in four phases, each with increasing amounts of indigenous content.

Speaking to MON during AERO India, the Chairman and Managing Director of Hindustan Aeronautics, R Madhavan, said that while the Russian side had submitted its bid for supply of 200 helicopters, negotiations were still ongoing, with the indigenous content presently standing at 62%, against the 70% quoted in the Request for Proposal.

Madhavan also clarified that the Indian requirement for 70% indigenization related to the Russian content on Ka-226Ts to be assembled in India. “If you look at it on the total on the Ka-226T, the indigenization on the entire platform is coming to 27-33%. That is what the indigenous content will be from our side,” he stated.

Rosoboronexport and Russian Helicopters have offered an indigenization level of 62% only in Phase IV of local assembly, in which the last 50 helicopters will be built. For assembly of the 35 helicopters in Phase I, it would be only 3.5%. The Indian MoD is demanding a greater share of indigenous content to achieve the 70% of the original requirement, towards which it is looking to include more items of Indian origin. The co-axial light helicopters are to be produced by Indo-Russian Helicopter Pvt Ltd. (IRHL), a joint venture between Hindustan Aeronautics (50.5%), Russian Helicopters (42.5%) and Rosoboronexport (7%), established in May 2017.

Now presently, the items have been identified which can be included by IRHL into the Transfer of Technology (ToT) agreements and based on that we are planning to increase it to 70%,” Madhavan asserted. “As a [joint venture] partner we are supporting Rosoboronexport and Russian Helicopters to the extent of helping them identify Indian vendors for the programme.” 

The powerplant, sourced from Safran Helicopter Engines in France, and the avionics make up the remaining 30% of the helicopter in terms of value. Safran will deliver engines for the first 60 helicopters directly to Russia and has made an offer to assemble, integrate and test the engines in India for the remaining batch of 140 aircraft. The Ka-226T’s 580hp FADEC-equipped ARRIUS 2G1 engine is a derivative of the ARRIUS 2, which was in certified in 1999.

Production will take place at the facility coming up at Tumkur, near Bangalore, adjacent to HAL’s Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) production line.

Atul Chandra in Bangalore for MON

Plans for local assembly of 140 Russian Helicopters’ Ka-226Ts for the Indian armed forces are currently stalled till a dispute over indigenous content is resolved. (Photo via author)

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