January 29, 2016

Russia to start work on joint plan to produce light military choppers in India this year

NEW DELHI: Russia is planning to initiate work on a joint plan to produce light military choppers in India this year and has identified the helicopters for export orders as well. Sharing details of a new Indo-Russian joint venture company to produce KA 226 helicopters, a top Russian executive has also indicated that a private Indian company could also be involved in the project and would be chosen by the Indian government.
The agreement to jointly produce at least 200 of the KA 226 light choppers in India was signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Moscow visit in December and for the first time, the Russian side has shared details of the project with ET.  Viktor Kladov, Head, International Cooperation of Rostec -  Russia's overarching military systems development and export corporation - has said in an exclusive interview that France, which provides the engines for the chopper, is also onboard for technology transfer.  "A number of technical discussions will take place and I hope that before the end of this year, work will start.
 The chopper utilized the best technologies available globally, including the French engines. We have had negotiations with our French partners and are satisfied are on board," Kladov said, adding that HAL (the Indian JV partner for the contract) is already license producing French chopper engines.  Rostec is also looking to jointly export military and civilian versions of the chopper from the Indian line after meeting domestic demands.
"The joint agreement reads that the line will produce no less than 200 choppers. This means that 200 is a confirmed government order. We will definitely be looking at other civilian orders and international markets as well," the top executive said, adding that the chopper for be used for a variety of roles from search and rescue to medical ambulance and geo mapping.  Kladov also indicated that an Indian private company could also be brought on board for the KA 226 production as there is  a provision in the joint agreement. "It is mentioned in the agreement that the Indian side will consist of HAL and another company - we don't exclude that in some part, a private Indian company could be involved. For example, it could be for certain composite elements that can be produced locally," he said. 
Officials in the Indian Defence Ministry have also told ET that one or two partners from the private sector would be considered for the project but would be chosen by the government on technical and financial parameters.   Russia is also planning a significant presence at the upcoming Defence Expo that is being held in Goa this March. Kladov shared that over 60 Russian companies are to participate at the expo that is taking place outside the capital for the first time and several Russian systems, including tanks and combat vehicles are likely to be displayed.


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