#DefenseDiaries: India's Ka-226T helicopter is a jack of all trades
200 Kamov Ka-226T light-utility helicopters are being acquired and will be assembled by India under a $1 billion agreement in 2015.
Once commissioned, the choppers would replace the Indian military's vintage workhorse, the Cheetah helicopter.
The Ka-226T features an interchangeable mission pod and high payload capacity, boosting the military's operational capabilities.
The helicopters might even be exported to other countries from India.
All about the Indian military's upcoming Ka-226T helicopter
How India came to finalize the Ka-226T chopper
The Ka-226T beat the European Airbus AS550 Fennec for India's light-utility helicopter requirement.
In 2015, an Indo-Russian agreement was signed to produce the helicopter in India.
In 2017, a joint venture between India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Russian Helicopters Group and Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport was formed.
Price negotiations are ongoing. Meanwhile, a Request for Proposal (RFP) by India is expected in three-to-four months.
140 choppers to be manufactured in India
Sixty out of the 200 Ka-226T choppers ordered would be manufactured in Russia while the rest would be assembled by HAL in India.
The Indian Army would receive around 130-140 helicopters while the remaining will go to the Indian Air Force (IAF).
In a boost to 'Make in India', senior Russian officials have offered to export the helicopters assembled in India to other countries.
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Kamov's signature co-axial rotors greatly boosts performance
The Ka-226T is a co-axial rotor helicopter which is an upgraded version of the proven Ka-26 chopper.
Unlike most helicopters, the Ka-226T features two main rotors which rotate in opposite directions.
It has no tail rotor, eliminating the need for complex mechanisms and shortening the helicopter's length.
The co-axial rotors provide greater lift (increasing payload) and better stability while hovering (crucial for troop insertion).
Interchangeable mission pod make it a jack of all trades
The Ka-226T features a unique interchangeable mission pod, which allows huge flexibility in operations.
Hence, a single helicopter can be used for passenger transportation, construction, patrol, medical evacuations, firefighting, and search and rescue operations.
Each pod, which forms the rear cabin, can be detached or attached in just two hours.
Generally, only heavy helicopters offer such flexible roles but lack detachable pods.
Ideal for Indian conditions
The Ka-226T can operate day and night and in temperatures ranging from -50 to +50С.
This makes it versatile enough to fly in India's extreme Thar desert to the cold mountainous areas bordering Pakistan and China.
It can also fly at altitudes in excess of 6,000 meters, making it capable of operating at the Siachen glacier.
It can take-off and land on unprepared sites.
Ka-226T can carry thrice as many supplies as Army's Cheetah
Currently, India flies the vintage Cheetah and Chital helicopters to supply troops stationed at the Siachen Glacier, the world's highest battlefield. The Ka-226T carry thrice as many supplies in every sortie than the Cheetah helicopters. It has two engines which greatly improve safety.