India and Russia are likely sign an agreement for the manufacture in India of the Kamov KA 226T helicopters during the visit of Prime Minister Modi in December.
Indian defence minister Manohar Parrikar who embarked on a three-day visit to Russia said in an interview to TASS that he hoped to use his visit to have the chooper deal negotiated and ready for signing when the Prime Minister arrives.
The joint manufacture had been proposed by Mr Modi to Russian president Putin during his visit to New Delhi last year. Subsequently, the Indian Defence Acquisition Council had cleared the proposal for joint manufacture.
It is not yet known which Indian company is likely to partner Russian Helicopters, the manufacture of the KA-226T. Informal sources said that state owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Reliance Defence were the two contenders to partner with the Russians.
While the KA 226T was originally proposed for an Indian Army and Navy tender for light helicopters, for which it had been shortlisted along with a chopper from Eurocopter (Now Airbus), the proposal was put in cold storage since the last seveal years.
However, it received a new impetus after Prime Modi came to power with his emphasis on ‘Make in India’. The KA 226T are proposed to be manufactured in India both to meet domestic demand from the armed forces as well as to tap the export market.
India has a requirement for over 200 helicopters of the KA 226T type and the world market for the twin rotor helicopter capable of a variety of roles including attack, transport, and medical evacuation is seen in excess of 1000 machines over five years.