Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to invite Russia to partake in the $3 billion light-utility helicopters project while meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin today.
The helicopters are meant not only for the use of the Indian Armed Forces but also for export. The initiative is also the first major project since the launch of ‘Make in India’.
The deal will require public sector unit Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) or an Indian private firm to partner with a foreign firm to produce the Kamov-226T helicopters.
In India, the bidding for these ‘reconnaissance and surveillance helicopters’ is restricted to Indian firms and their joint venture partner, according to the Hindustan Times.
In the first phase, the order could be for 384 helicopters, which could later be increased to 600 to replace the ailing Cheetah/Chetak fleet used by the Indian army and air force, senior government officials told the newspaper.
Earlier in October, the Indian Minister of Defense cancelled the tender to procure 197 light-utility helicopters from foreign firms. Competitors included the Russian Kamov-226T, Eurocopter and Bell.
Meanwhile, Alexey Likhachev, Russia’s Deputy Minister of Economic Development told the Russia and India Report in October “we propose the development of specific projects that absolutely correspond to the local national agenda – “Make in India”. Our task is not just to deliver our goods to the Indian market, but establish manufacturing and create service centres here. All this is accompanied by a transfer of technologies to India.”