On 15 October, New Delhi and Moscow agreed to establish a joint-venture in India to co-produce Kamov Ka-226T light utility helicopters for the Indian Army and Indian Air Force (IAF).
The principal vendors will be Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Russian Helicopters, which will jointly own the Kamov production site (at 50.5% and 49.5%, respectively).
Of the 200 helicopters, India will procure, 60 of them will be procured directly from Russia, 40 will be assembled in India, and 100 will be manufactured in India. India will also host a maintenance, repair, and overhaul facility for the Ka-226T. The Ka-226Ts will replace aging Cheetah and Chetak units.
Notes & Comments:
The Government of India’s selection of HAL is interesting considering that HAL is directly responsible for the development of the domestically developed Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), which is envisaged to also phase out aging lightweight utility helicopters in use in India’s defence and civilian markets.
The Indian Army and IAF had required 200 helicopters to replace their aging Cheetah and Chetak units, and the recent Ka-226T order should aptly fulfill that requirement. Unless India’s defence requirements are expanded, the Kamov order essentially precludes the LUH from the domestic defence market, which – at least from the perspective of being a firm order – was the largest single source for scale.
In effect, the LUH’s hope for scale is now largely dependent on the civilian market (though the prospect of a large civil services order should not be dismissed). The space for prospective European vendors in India’s lightweight utility helicopter market, such as Airbus Helicopters, is also unclear considering now that there are now two strong state-backed entrants (i.e. Ka-226T and HAL LUH).