Will India abandon the $1 billion Ka-226T helicopters deal with Russia?

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70% of India’s military helicopters have been in service for over 30 years, the rest in service for almost 50 years, often requiring refurbishment and maintenance.

India has decided to cancel the production of Ka-226T helicopters on its territory, Bloomberg reports, citing senior sources in the Indian government. Instead, it is possible that ready-made military Ka-226T helicopters will be purchased, since the Indian Air Force needs to immediately replace its fleet of more than 320 obsolete helicopters.

At the same time, India is considering the possibility of buying ready-made helicopters, as it urgently needs to update its fleet of helicopters, which includes over 320 obsolete machines. The letter of intent, signed in 2015, provided for the delivery of 200 Ka-226T helicopters to the Indian Armed Forces, of which 60 were to be supplied from Russia, and 140 were produced at a joint venture organized by HAL corporation and Russian Helicopters at HAL Bangalore plant.

KA-226T Helicopter at the "MAKS-2021"
KA-226T Helicopter at the “MAKS-2021”

According to Bloomberg authors, the Ka-226T had few supporters in the Indian government, given the presence of a national LUH light helicopter project and the higher cost of operating coaxial helicopters in comparison with traditional ones. The agency notes that the Indian side demanded to increase the level of localization of the Ka-226T, but did not succeed in negotiations.

Currently, a contract has been signed for the supply of 12 locally made LUH helicopters for the Indian Armed Forces. They are expected to go into production following the launch of the Karnataka plant.

HAL LUH
HAL LUH

At the same time, more than 70% of Indian military helicopters are over 30 years old, many are approaching the age of 50, which requires frequent repairs and maintenance. In particular, since the 1970s, HAL Cheetah helicopters, a licensed version of the French SA 315B Lama, have been in operation, which are to be replaced by new generation light helicopters.

The Ka-226T helicopter is designed for export and civilian customers; it is equipped with an Arrius 2G1 engine from Safran Helicopter Engines and a new gearbox. The helicopter has the ability to install an external additional fuel tank, winch, external cargo suspension, searchlight. To carry out medical and evacuation work, a medical module is installed in the transport cabin of the helicopter.

The VK-650V engine is currently being developed for the Ka-226T. At present, prototypes of VK-650V are being produced for testing. The creation of the VK-650V was announced in 2019, the engine is being developed and will be produced using exclusively Russian components and materials, which will reduce the risks associated with the use of foreign-developed and manufactured units.

Instead of Rolls-Royce 250C engines, Ka-226T variant is fitted with the more powerful Turbomeca Arrius 2G1. Each engine provides 670 shp, increasing the service ceiling to around 7,000 m, providing improved high altitude and high temperature operation. Helicopter has new avionics with multifunctional displays, automatic control system, navigation system, radar. It can be equipped with hoist system, helicopter sling, searchlight, additional external fuel tank. For search and rescue missions helicopter can be equipped with medical module.

It can be operated at altitudes up to 7000 m and at temperatures from -55 ° C to + 60 ° C. The engine of this type is intended for new light helicopters developed in Russia, including the serial Ka-226 and Ansat, as well as the ultralight VRT-500 helicopter, which is currently under development.

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