January 22, 2013
Russian Helicopters will showcase its light multipurpose Ka-226T helo, which is a contender to fulfill the Indian defense ministry’s requirement for surveillance and reconnaissance helicopters, at the ninth edition of Aero India, which begins Feb. 6 at Bengaluru in southern India.
India wants to purchase 197 light helicopters — 133 for the Army and 64 for the Indian air force.
“The results of the tender to supply the reconnaissance and surveillance helicopters are expected to be announced soon. All the test phases have been completed and the examination of bids is at [the] final stage,” says an Indian defense ministry official.
The competition has been fraught with controversy since India issued its first request for proposals (RFP) in 2003. The Bell 407 and Eurocopter AS 550 C3 were shortlisted and underwent extensive trials. It appeared that Eurocopter had won, but the government put the deal on hold to investigate allegations regarding the role of two senior Indian army officers and a senior bureaucrat in pushing the deal through for Eurocopter.
After the first tender was scrapped, the ministry issued a fresh RFP in 2008. The Ka-226T and Eurocopter AS550 C3 Fennec helicopter are currently the only contenders.
Under the deal, estimated to be worth about $700 million, 60 helicopters will be bought outright, with the remaining 137 built under license by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
Besides the Ka-226T, Russian Helicopters will also showcase an upgraded civil medium Mi-171A2 based on the Mi-8/17 family. The fleet of Mi-8/17 helicopters in India numbers almost 200 aircraft, according to Russian Helicopters. The Indian air force also recently purchased Mi-17V-5 helicopters.
Russian Helicopters, jointly with Rosoboronexport, will also showcase the Mi-28NE attack helicopter at the show.
Ka-226T photo: Russian Helicopters