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Russia eyes buyers for Ka-226T Climber helicopter

ksenia kondratieva Moscow | Updated on July 21, 2021

Ka 226T is getting attention from several other international buyers

The Russian helicopter manufacturer has put its new Ka-226T Climber helicopter, intended to be sold to India under the 2015 agreement, on display at MAKS-2021 international air show in Moscow.

The new modification of twin-engine utility helicopter, build at Ulan Ude facility of Russian Helicopters, as a part of an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) signed by Russia and India in 2015, is heading for test flights in the coming months.

The helicopter has a unique name, Climber, because of its ability to operate at altitudes of up to 6,500 meters and its high resistance to strong side winds, high rate of climb, as well as easy take-off and landing at high-altitude sites or in the city.

Grabs attention

According to several high-level officials, the Ka 226T is getting attention from several other international buyers than India. The helicopter will be displayed at the Dubai Airshow later this year.

“The agreement with India has never prevented us from promoting this model in the international market, even though our Indian colleagues had some preferences as a first customer,” Andrey Boginsky, Russian Helicopters’s CEO, told BusinessLine on the sidelines of the MAKS airshow.

He added that Russian Helicopters has fulfilled all their obligations, established a joint venture with HAL (Indo-Russian Helicopters Limited, or IRHL), identified several potential manufacturing partners, and submitted proposal for localisation to the Ministry of Defence.

However, he added, that “India has not made such efforts, and the deal has not yet crossed the stage of commercial negotiations”. “As far as we know, India is also interested in receiving these machines as soon as possible,” he added. Another official, who did not want to be named, confirmed that several countries have expressed interest in ordering the Climber helicopters and that Ulan-Ulan plant is capable to handle any number of orders of this model.

“At the moment, the ball is on the Indian side. We have submitted our proposals and are waiting for [MoD’s] final decision on the last important point – the degree of localisation of Ka-226T production in India,” Victor Kladov, Rostec’s Director for International Cooperation and Regional Policy, told BusinessLine.

India’s order

As per the deal, India intended to order 200 helicopters, 60 of which were to be imported from Russia, and the remaining 140 manufactured locally by a joint venture set up by Russia and India.

At the time of signing of the agreement, the deal was estimated at over $1 billion.

The Ka-226T is powered by a French engine and has an overall 74 per cent of Russian content and around 26 per cent of European content. The proposal submitted by the Russian side maintains the localisation plan would be spread over four phases, beginning with 3.3 per cent indigenisation (of the Russian original content) for the first 35 helicopters and reaching over 62 per cent in Phase 4 for the last 50 helicopters. Coupled with localisation of ground services, the total level of localization could reach 70 per cent, said Boginsky. This matches the requirement listed in the Request For Proposal (RFP) issued to IRHL for 200 helicopters in 2018.

While he didn’t elaborate on the reasons for India delaying signing the commercial contract, suggesting the question should be answered by the Indian side, he assured that there is no disagreement over the levels of localisation.

The Ka-226T was meant to replace the ageing Cheetah and Chetak fleet. At the same time, India is hastening manufacturing of The Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) using a French engine made by the Safran Group. The army version of the helicopter has received the initial operational clearance earlier this year.

Published on July 21, 2021

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