Navalized Ka-226T Could Boost Indo-Russian Deal

 - May 8, 2018, 12:44 PM
A Ka-226T flies during the MAKS show in Moscow in 2015. (Photo: Vladimir Karnozov)

Russian Helicopters has confirmed that the Indian Navy is considering a navalized version of the Kamov Ka-226T. The service is seeking a Naval Utility Helicopter (NUH) for search-and-rescue, humanitarian relief, coastal patrol, monitoring, and counterterror operations. India has already agreed to acquire 200 Ka-226Ts to meet the Air Force and Army’s Reconnaissance and Surveillance Helicopter (RSH) requirement.

The Ka-226T was not originally listed by the Navy as a competitor for the LUH, but Chief of Naval staff Admiral Sunil Lamba confirmed the change of mind. India “would save much money due to our joint project on local assembly of the type,” Sergei Chemezov, head of Rostec, commented in January. He explained that the Navy would benefit from a common program for training of flight and ground crews. 

Rostec is the parent organization of Russian Helicopters and the Rosoboronexport arms sales agency. The latter two are minority shareholders in Indo-Russian Helicopters Limited (IRHL), which was established in May 2017 to produce the Ka-226T in Tumakuru, near Bangalore. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is the majority (55 percent) shareholder.

An Indian MoD delegation last month inspected the Kamov design house and the Russian Helicopters factory at Ulan-Ude. This is where the first 60 Ka-226Ts for India will be produced before licensed production of another 140 is undertaken at Tumakuru. The Indian and Russian heads of state signed the 200-helicopter deal in December 2015.

Russian Helicopters general manager Andrei Boginsky said he hopes for expansion of the license project following shipments of six navalized Ka-226TMs to Russia’s Federal Security Service (local acronym FSB). They have foldable blades for compact storage in a ship hangar; special marine avionics; night vision and other mission equipment; and a mount for a 7.62-mm machine gun. 

Kamov first proposed a navalized Ka-226 back in 2005, but initially, the FSB looked at European models to equip its coastal patrol corvettes. Following the chill in East-West relations, the service placed the contract for the six Ka-226TMs in November 2015. The last pair of these was delivered last month. “The Ka-226T has proved its merits in the tough conditions of the sea,” claimed Boginsky.

The Ka-226 features a flying chassis design complete with detachable cabin modules seating up to six passengers or carrying mission equipment. First flown in 1997 and operational since 2002, the type did not meet customers’ expectations until 2011, when the Ka-226T version was introduced with more powerful Turbomeca Arrius 2G1 engines. Of the 70 delivered to date, 40 have gone to the Russian Air and Space Force (VKS), twenty to other Russian government agencies, and the remainder to various civilian organizations.