The Navy is planning to get 110 light utility helicopters manufactured by an Indian firm in collaboration with a foreign firm, India Today reported. The move comes after Russian Kamov-226T copters, that were pressed into service in 2002, are reportedly short of the Navy’s requirements. A government source told Mail Today that “as the strategic partnership policy has been cleared by the government, an Expression of Interest would be issued to the Indian firms by the Defence Ministry in the next few weeks to buy 110 copters, which would be under the ‘Made in India’ project.” The source added that the old Kamov 226T does not meet the requirements of the Navy and so new tender would be required for buying these light utility helicopters.
The Russian Kamov-226T is a small, twin-engined Russian utility helicopter. Instead of having a conventional cabin, it has an interchangeable mission pod. It allows the use of various accommodation or equipment configurations. It was built in a joint venture between Russia and India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Its aim was to supply 200 helicopters to the Army and Air Force in order to replace their vintage fleet of Cheetah and Chetak copters.
According to the India Today report, Indian firms like Mahindra, L&T and Bharat Forge are likely to take part in the tender along with foreign partners like Airbus Helicopters from Europe, Russian Helicopters, Sikorsky and Bell Helicopters from the US. It has been more than two years now that the force had to wait as the government was formulating the strategic partnership policy during this time.
In 2014, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had scrapped a Rs 6,500 crore Navy helicopter deal for buying 16 multi-role helicopters for the Navy from America. The objective was to promote ‘Make in India’ in the military sector for reducing imports.
The Navy is also trying to come out with a fresh deal for obtaining 123 Naval Multi-role Helicopters (NMRH) through the Make in India route. It will be one of the biggest helicopter deals in the world.