Moscow: Prime Minister's Narendra Modi's flagship ‘Make In India' initiative could receive a significant shot in the arm during his upcoming visit to Moscow later this month, with India and Russia likely to enter into a landmark agreement to jointly manufacture new generation of light military choppers under the initiative.
The deal pertains to an inter-governmental contract for producing over 200 Kamov 226 choppers, which was cleared by India's defence acquisition committee earlier this year.
"We have been discussing the production of the Ka 226 in India for a long time and we hope that during the visit of the Indian Prime Minister we will sign the agreement. Russian Helicopters and its subsidiaries and component manufacturers are ready to supply kits for its assembly in India as well as to localize production," Deputy Minister Andrey Boginskiy of the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade was quoted as saying by the Economic Times.
Earlier, in December 2014, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Rogozin had noted in December 2014 that India would be producing the Mi-17 and Ka-226T helicopters in India, possibly up to 400 ‘Kamov' helicopters annually in accordance with the relevant agreement with Russia.
This, he said, would be part of the Indian government's ambitious ‘Make in India' programme, opened up to the defence sector. “The Kamov 226T helicopter's unique characteristics and particular Indian requirements forced the Indian defence ministry to cancel the tender and decide to produce the Russian copters in India,” the Deputy Prime Minister had said.
India is in desperate need for light choppers in view of the ageing Cheetah/Chetak helicopters that are deployed to support Army personnel posted at high altitude areas, including the Siachen glacier.
Though the initial contract is expected to be for 200 choppers, the number could exceed further due to the massive demand. The initial choppers will be produced from Russian supplied kits but would be progressively indigenised.
Modalities including details such as selection of the Indian partner of the deal will be decided later. According to the Russian official quoted earlier, the selection of the Indian partner under the Make In India programme, will depend upon the Indian government.
Russia has already told India that it is ready to partner with both Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Anil Ambani owned Reliance Defence for the contract.