Now Russia will ‘Make in India’ 200 military helicopters

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Now Russia will ‘Make in India’ 200 military helicoptersMoving an inch forward in ‘Make in India’ initiative in defence production, Gurgaon-based Sun Group may partner with Russia to make light helicopters.

If everything goes as planned, 200 Kamov Ka 226 light helicopters may replace the ageing Cheetah fleet, which services one of the world’s highest military deployments on the Siachen glacier.

Economic Times reported that work on the Russian deal, by nomination, had begun after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit last year in December and assurances were exchanged at the highest levels to look into this project.

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The facility may come up in Goa as a feasibility study was conducted to set up a chopper line in the coastal soon after Manohar Parrikar, former Goa CM, took over as defence minister.

If the deal works out, it would be the second major defence project for the state. Parrikar had already announced that the Goa Shipyard was nominated to construct 12 minesweepers for the Indian Navy in a contract that is expected to cost over $1 billion.

The financial daily stated that while Russian Helicopters (RH) is in talks with a handful of possible Indian partners, the lead contender happens to be the Gurgaon-based Sun Group.

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As per insiders, the group may get a significant share of the deal, which might cross a whooping amount of $700 million. RH is likely to produce at least 200 choppers in India.

However, the company is also planning to involve Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), and partnerships with other private firms are not ruled out.

Vice-Chairman and founder of Sun Group Shiv Vikram Khemka has been a non-executive director on the board of RH since 2011 and has already set up a helicopter division. He is likely to be involved in the ‘Make in India’ project.

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While the Sun Group did not respond to a detailed questionnaire sent by ET, company officials said things were at a preliminary stage and it was too early to comment.

But according to sources, Sun Group was also an offset partner for RH in a previous competition to supply light choppers to the army, a process which was cancelled by the government last year.

Defence ministry officials, on the condition of anonymity, told ET that the RH deal had effectively killed any other light helicopter project for the armed forces, including a process that was initiated earlier this year for an Indian-led JV to manufacture a new range of choppers.

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(Image: Reuters)