New Delhi: Russian president sanctioned joint production of ‘Kamov – 226T’ – Russian built fighter helicopters in India. Negotiations were going on between India and Russia in this regard since past five months. Under this agreement of around rupees six thousand crores, Russia would provide India with 200 ‘Kamov – 226T’ helicopters out of which 100 helicopters would be produced in India itself with the help of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
Last year BRICS Conference was held at Goa in October. Indo-Russia annual summit was also held on the sidelines. In this summit Prime Minister Modi and Russian President Putin announced primary agreement to manufacture ’Kamov – 226T’ helicopters in India. Subsequently the two countries started negotiations in this reference.
Negotiations were going on between the two countries since past five months regarding the cost and transfer of the technology of helicopters .These negotiations were settled just few days back. After which the sanction from Russian president was awaited to start the joint venture of these helicopters in India. Recently the Russian President sanctioned the commencement of the joint venture, said a senior official from the Defence ministry.
‘Kamov – 226T’ helicopters deal is approximately of rupees six thousand crores ($60 billion) between Russia and India. The cost of one Kamov helicopter would be around rupees 32 crores for India and 60 out of 200 helicopters would be produced in Russia. 40 helicopters would be assembled in India. Remaining 100 helicopters would be produced in India itself with the help of ‘HAL’.
As per one of the surveys, Indian security forces needed 800 light weight helicopters. The helicopters Cheetah and Chetak of Indian security forces had become old and were retiring .The helicopters ‘Kamov – 226T’ were going to replace them.
In 2002 Indian Army had proposed to buy new helicopters to replace the Cheetah and Chetak helicopters that had served for more than 40 years. However in the last 15 years this purchase was on-hold due to some or the other reason. The old helicopters Cheetah and Chetak have been in news due to many accidents caused recently. 20 pilots lost their lives in these accidents. Hence these old helicopters are to be retired and new helicopters had to be deployed on priority. Presently Indian security forces have over more than 400 Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, out of which Indian Army itself has control of over 250 helicopters.
In this background, the approval by Russian President for joint production of ‘Kamov – 226T’ helicopters proves significant.