Russia and India boost strategic partnership

Russian Ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin (right) at the opening ceremony of Integrated Helicopter Service Pvt. Ltd

Russian Ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin (right) at the opening ceremony of Integrated Helicopter Service Pvt. Ltd

Russian helicopters make up the core of India’s helicopter fleet.

Integrated Helicopter Service Pvt. Ltd, the first Indo-Russian joint venture for the after-sales service and maintenance of Russian-made rotorcraft, has opened in India. The opening ceremony took place in Greater Noida, a suburb of New Delhi, on 7 February 2011. The project involves Russian Helicopters from United Industrial Corporation (UIC) Oboronprom, and India’s Vectra Group, which also assembles Russia’s KAMAZ trucks in South India.

The new joint venture is designed to be a major centre for providing warranty service for Russia-made helicopters in India. It will provide after-sales services for Indian operators and state aviation organisations, along with scheduled maintenance and unscheduled repairs of Mil and Kamov helicopters. In the future, Integrated Helicopter Services Private Ltd. plans to provide major repairs, including engines and avionics, and to offer maintenance. The service centre will also have a pilot training centre and a logistic centre to provide spare parts to Indian operators of Russian rotorcraft.

The opening ceremony, attended by India’s top government officials and businessmen, leading politicians and public figures, was addressed by Russian Ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin, UIC Oboronprom Director General Andrey Reus, Russian Helicopters CEO Dmitry Petrov, Integrated Helicopter Service Pvt. Ltd General Director Evgeny Kisel, and Vectra Group Chairman Ravi Rishi. They stressed the new centre’s importance for boosting Russian-Indian cooperation in hi-tech and military cooperation, including joint development, production and marketing of new combat equipment, munitions and armament.   

“The opening of this service centre exemplifies a new stage in relations between Russia and India, which together have reached a new level of special and preferred strategic partnership,” Ambassador Kadakin stressed.

Russian Helicopters CEO Dmitry Petrov confirmed that the new centre was designed as “one of the key elements in our support network for both existing Russian-made rotorcraft and Mil and Kamov helicopters that will be delivered in the future, not just in India, but in Southeast Asia as a whole.”

Tellingly, the opening of the new centre was timed to coincide with Aero India 2011 air show held in Bangalore, South India, on 9 – 13 February.  “This service centre’s establishment, here in India, represents a new stage in implementing Russian Helicopters’ programme to build a global support network for rotorcraft based on certified centres and joint ventures offering helicopter maintenance services in different parts of the world,” said Andrey Reus, Director General of UIC Oboronprom.

This will help support Russian-made rotorcraft throughout their lifecycle, from delivery to recycling. As part of this programme, new maintenance and repair centres are being established, while the existing centres are being certified in key regions of the world, including India, which is a traditional market for Russian helicopter manufacturing.

Currently, Russian Helicopters is the only official supplier of Russian civilian helicopters to India. Military helicopters are delivered by state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport. Russian-made rotorcraft compile the core helicopter fleet of the Indian air force. More than 200 Russian helicopters are in service in India, including the Mil Mi-25 (the export version of the Mi-24D), Mi-35, Mi-26, and Mi-8/17. India’s private helicopter companies (Jagson Airlines Ltd., Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd., Mesco Airlines, and others) operate six Mi-172 helicopters.

In addition to these models that Russia traditionally supplies to India, the latter’s skies could soon see yet another certified model, the civilian all-weather coaxial rotor helicopter Ka-32A11VS. India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) granted permission to use the helicopter based on the certificate issued by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

The contract between Russian Helicopters and Global Vectra Helicorp for the supply of Ka-32A11VS helicopters was signed in July 2010. Global Vectra Helicorp says that this helicopter will be used for cargo transport and civilian construction projects.

Meanwhile, Russian Helicopters expects an increase in orders for new helicopters from India’s commercial operators. A number of new models, including Ka-226/Ka-226T, Ka-32A11VS and Ansat, will soon be certified and offered to Indian clients. Ка-226T is already involved in India’s tender for 197 light helicopters. A test flight of its heavily overhauled version is scheduled for September 2011. 

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