• Light Helicopter Replacement – Confusion Prevails

    The Cheetah /Chetak replacement programme continues to flounder despite the Government to Government agreement between India and Russia for the supply of 200 Kamov- 226T light helicopters under the Make in India Policy. Presently there is no clarity on as to how this project will move forward and both sides seem to be struggling to meet the challenging ‘Make in India’ requirement of building 50 per cent of the helicopter in India.

    While the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has been designated as the nodal agency for this critical programme along with Russian Helicopters there are a number of complex issues involved which need to be addressed in order to move ahead. The recent statement of Russian Helicopters that they are working with HAL to iron out the various contentious issues and that the signing of the contract is likely by year end is a positive development but it’s likely transformation into realty seems a distant dream in the current situation.

    The complexities involved in this project are far too many and one will have to wait and watch as to how these will be addressed and get resolved eventually. Given the track record of other such crucial Government to Government deals like the Army’s M777 Howitzer and the Airforce’s MMRCA Rafale projects, which are still nowhere near closure despite a period of three to four years having elapsed, the prospect of concluding a contract for the Ka-226 project by end of the year does not inspire much confidence. Vernon Hargreaves III Womens Jersey

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