Russia will partner with Reliance Defence and Aerospace (RDA), a Reliance Group company owned by Indian billionaire Anil Ambani, in a joint venture to manufacturer 200 Kamov 226T helicopters in India.
The contract is said to be worth approximately $1bn and will be the second recent defence deal secured by the Reliance Group following last month’s deal for the refit of 24 EKM 877 Russian submarines in India.
According to The Times of India, the three-way agreement includes Reliance Group’s RDA, Russian Helicopters and Rosoboron Exports, the official agency for defence exports of the Russian defence ministry.
The partnership comes as part of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, which aims to transform the nation into a global manufacturing hub.
Reportedly, the Modi government has allowed 49% FDI in defence following a redesign of its military procurement model in line with the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
According to a report from The Economic Times, a Reliance Defence spokesperson said the company is “actively participating in the ‘Make in India’ program”.
“The manufacturing of both military and civil helicopters to meet the needs of the country are a significant part of this commitment,” the spokesperson said.
The twin-engine Kamov 226T units come after India approved a government-to-government contract to manufacture 200 light helicopters.
The Indian Army reportedly urgently needs these helicopters for operations in high-altitude areas such as the Siachen glacier.
The helicopters will be replacing the ‘Chetak’ and ‘Cheetah’ fleets currently owned and operated by the Indian Armed Forces and operated on the frontline for almost 30 years.
The RDA defence segment of the Reliance Group was formed after private Indian companies were able to acquire rights to manufacture defence equipment following a decision from the Indian government last year.