Russian Helicopters’ Kamav Ka, others, to be Made in India.
Russian Helicopters’ Kamav Ka, others, to be Made in India.

Russian builders of the Kamov Ka 226 chopper have signed a deal with Indian authorities to build 200 of them in India, the Press Trust of India reported on Sunday.

The Russian Helicopters built Kamav, nicknamed the Hoodlum by NATO, is a light transport utility vehicle used in police, military and rescue operations. It is unclear who the deal was signed with, but Indian Ambassador to Russia P. S. Raghavan told the newswire that it was part of a wider defense contract. Russia is the biggest supplier of military components to India, accounting for roughly 60% of India’s defense procurement.

The Kamov Ka deal is a boon for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” program, an initiative announced this year to bring manufacturing jobs to low-cost India.

“Joint manufacture of 200 helicopters in India is big bang. If two countries decide to manufacture 200 helicopters in India with transfer of technology, and licence production, this is big bang,” Raghavan told PTI.

Investors and India pundits have been using the term “big bang” to describe the country’s new budget and reform proposals, many of whom have said there was no big bang reforms that had any foreseeable future. India has a notorious gnarly parliament. Getting reforms passed takes a long time.
The ambassador reportedly said that Russia and India are talking about manufacturing Russian submarines and ships in India as well. India ultimately hopes to entice Russian firms to set up foreign subsidiaries in India or sign on to joint ventures.

The U.S. defense industry is also present in India. Lockheed Martin LMT -0.22% is the biggest partner in the country. Its C-130 Hercules is partially built in Hyderabad by Tata Advanced Systems. Tata also builds the main cabin of Sikorsky helicopters. Sikorsky was acquired by Lockheed Martin for $8 billion. The deal was announced over the weekend. Tata will likely continue its contract given its relationship with Lockheed.

Last year, India changed its rules to allow for more foreign investment into local defense contractors. India does not have a large domestic defense industry. Most of its equipment is on license from Russia, France and the U.S.