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Russia and India are set to engage in fresh negotiations to resolve the impasse concerning the indigenous content percentage in the Russian Kamov Ka-226T chopper, which India plans to manufacture locally. The discussions arose from the Russians’ inability to provide the desired 70% indigenous content, with their offer limited to 62%, and that too only in the fourth phase of production.

The Kamov Ka-226T helicopter, intended to replace India’s Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, is powered by French Safran Arrius 2G1 Twin engines, which are not included in the Transfer of Technology (ToT) agreement. However, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) and Russia are collaborating to identify components that can be included in the ToT to raise the indigenous content to the target level of 70%.

These negotiations, part of a $1 billion deal, have been ongoing for nearly a decade. The original plan was to manufacture 160 Kamov choppers out of the 200 acquired by the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force. However, the deadlock over indigenous content has led to delays in the implementation of the agreement.

While India’s HAL has made progress with its Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), which has entered Limited Series Production (LSP) and falls under the same category as the Ka-226T, the Russian chopper’s twin-engine configuration offers an additional safety feature. In India’s challenging high-altitude regions, where sudden power loss can contribute to accidents, having twin engines provides an added layer of security.

The discussions between Russia and India aim to find a middle ground and bridge the gap in the indigenous content requirement. Both parties recognize the importance of indigenous manufacturing capabilities for defence procurement, as it enhances self-reliance and strengthens the domestic defence industry.

The resumption of talks indicates a commitment to resolving the outstanding issues and moving forward with the procurement of the Ka-226T helicopters. The Russian and Indian authorities are aware of the significance of this deal, not only in terms of defence capabilities but also in strengthening bilateral relations between the two nations.

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