New Delhi : The Indian Army and the Indian Air Force desperately and urgently need light helicopters to maintain its position in the most difficult Siachen Glacier, but the deal signed in Goa by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Russian President Vladimir Putin to buy 200 Kamov-226T helicopters is stuck up on the issue of pricing.
The Russians have not yet talked about price of the deal as no agreement could be reached on the price while signing the deal. The defence ministry is expecting the cost to be around US $ 1 billion, but its officials have their own doubts because of their bad experience of the fifth generation fighter aircraft and multi-role transport aircraft projects stuck because of the sudden and exorbitant cost hikes by Moscow.
The Army and IAF wants the helicopters early to replace their fleet of Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, but they may have to put up for delay because of no agreement yet on several issues including price.
The deal envisages 60 choppers off the shelf from the Russian Helicopters while the remaining 140 will be built in India at a facility to be jointly developed by the Russian Helicopters with the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. Cost of the helicopters to be bought directly from Russia will be much less than the machines to be produced in India since the later would involve the cost of setting up a new facility and cost for transfer of technology.
The defence ministry sources admitted that there is also confusion on the business model of the project as the government is trying to involve a big private sector player.
The production cost of the indigenous choppers will also go up as the ‘Make in India’ components will increase over the years. Instead of setting up the production unit at the HAL’s facility in Karnataka, a new production facility is likely to be set up at a new site exclusively for producing the Kamovs, the sources added.