Russia has accepted India’s proposal to start joint production of civilian aircraft and helicopter for the South Asian country. Russian Minister of Trade and Industry Denis Manturov has confirmed the news, saying that Moscow is ready to begin the joint project with India. Speaking at a media conference on Wednesday, the minister said:
“We can offer Russian experience in creating aircraft and could consider the possibility of participation both in this project as a whole and in its individual stages from the design stage to after-sales service.”
Manturov revealed that Russia would produce Ka-226T utility helicopters jointly with India, as Kremlin decided to sign an agreement with New Delhi to manufacture around 200 helicopters for its
“old friend”. The agreement will include servicing, repair and technical assistance, he stressed. Earlier, India had informed Russia that the former was interested in producing the Ka-226T, a new version of the light multi-purpose Ka-226 helicopter, under a joint venture project. India prefers the Ka-226T, as the four-tonne chopper can maintain a maximum speed of 250km per hour. The helicopter is also capable of carrying up to 1100kg payload in the cabin or on an external sling. Manturov told the press that Russian Helicopters Holding, which was planning to supply two civil Mi-172 helicopters to India, could join the Indo-Russian project. According to the minister, the Russian company is interested in taking part in the bilateral project as India has been a traditional buyer of Russian arms since 1950s. As far as India is concerned, about 70% of the country’s military purchases came from Russia in the last five years.
Currently, New Delhi holds talks with Moscow for acquiring a number of Russian-made Ilyushin transport aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The Narendra Modi government in New Delhi believes that the mid-air refuelling aircraft will certainly boost the operational capabilities of the Su-30 fighter jets specially developed by Sukhoi Design Bureau for India. The IAF, which has more than 300 Russian Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters in its fleet, plans to spend USD 1.1 billion for acquiring 48 additional Mi-17V-5 helicopters. From 2011 to 2013, Russia’s state weapons exporter Rosoboronexport had supplied 80 Mi-17V-5s to New Delhi. Later in December 2015, India decided to purchase five S-400 air defence systems from Russia. This is a part of the biggest arms deal between the two “friendly” nations in the last 10 years.