Ka-226T to have 33% indigenous content
R Madhavan, Chairman of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), said that the indigenous content of Ka-226T Utility Helicopter to be jointly manufactured by India and Russia with Transfer of Technology (ToT) is between 27% to 33%. The final deal is still to be made as Russia proposes 62% indigenous content instead of a tender requirement of 70%. In this 70% bracket, the engine from Safran and avionics from other countries are not included.
The Ka-226T will be manufactured by a joint venture – India Russia Helicopter Limited (RIHL) between HAL and Russian helicopters. This helicopter is being developed to replace the Cheetah and Chetak helicopters’ aging fleet, whose total technical life will start finishing from 2023 onwards. India urgently needs around 400 utility helicopters. Army plans to approach the defense ministry for a waiver on the indigenous content requirements to speed up the procurement. An Intergovernmental Agreement was signed between India and Russia for 200 Ka-226T twin-engine utility helicopters at $1 billion. Of these, 60 were to be directly imported and 140 to be manufactured locally. The helicopters’ balance requirement will be fulfilled by the Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) built by HAL, whose Army variant got Initial Operation Clearance (IOC) recently.
Ukraine offers AN-178 to India
The Ukraine delegation at the Aero India event stated that they are looking forward to procuring some military hardware from India and deepen its presence in Indian Defence Market. Proposals will be taken ahead at the Bilateral Working Group meeting between the two defense ministries in April. Ukraine has signed four agreements worth $70 million, including the sale of new weapons and maintenance and upgrade of existing ones in service with the Indian Armed Forces. Ukraine also pitched its AN-178 Medium Transport Aircraft to India. Currently, Ukraine is upgrading the AN-32 transport fleet of the Indian Air Force (IAF) under a deal finalized in 2009. 40 out of 100 aircraft were upgraded in Ukraine, with remaining to be done at Base Repair Depot, Kanpur by the IAF.
In the past, Ukraine has also pitched its AN-132 transport aircraft to replace IAF’s AN-32 fleet. Moreover, Ukraine manufactures the R-27 air-to-air missiles used by the IAF on its Su-30 MkI fighters. Ukraine team also discussed possible collaboration with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in Research and Development programs.
Government releases Gender Ratio Data in Armed Forces in the Parliament
According to the information shared by the Minister of State for Defence Mr. Shripad Naik in Rajya Sabha, the gender ratio in Armed Forces is –
% of Women
Indian Air Force^
# – Women Officers only
^ – Excluding medical and dental personnel
The number of women personnel in the Indian Armed Forces rose in 2020 compared to the figures in 2019. The Government has announced a grant of permanent commission to women officers in all arms/services in which they are eligible. Earlier, Permanent Commission was allowed only in Judge Advocate General and Army Education Corps to women. The Government of India has also sanctioned 1700 women personnel in Military Police Corps in a phased manner. IAF, through direct contact programs, print and electronic media, creates awareness about IAF and encourages youth to join the forces. Indian Navy had employed women officers since 1992 when only law, education, and logistics sections were available for them. With time, other avenues were also opened like Naval Constructor Cadre in 2001, Observer Specialization (Maritime Reconnaissance Aircraft) in 2008, Pilots (MRA) in 2016, Naval Armament Inspectorate in 2017, and Sports and Musician Cadres and lateral induction into Provost Specialization in 2019.
Podded guns to be added in the weapon package of LCA-AF Mk2
Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Indian Air Force (IAF), which are working together in developing the LCA-AF Mk2, have plans to replace its internal 30 mm GSh-30-1 cannon with a Podded Gun System, which will be belly mounted. The manufacturers have not yet revealed the reason behind this move. ADA and IAF are not sure of the aircraft’s weapons configuration package, and the decisions are yet to be made regarding it.
The Single barreled Gryazev Shipunov GSh-30-1 cannon, which is equipped on SU-30 MkI and MiG-29 UPG, can fire 150 rounds of 30 X 165mm cartridge at once. It will be attached in the left shoulder-mounted position. This gun will be used on low to medium level threats, as it is able to reduce drag and weight penalty.
The space below the right intake of the LCA-AF Mk2 aircraft will be freed up. Tejas Mk1 and Tejas M1A jets are equipped with the twin-barrel 23 mm autocannon below the right intake.
HAL in talks with IAF and IN over the Aircraft production lineup
In the Aero India event, a deal was signed between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) over the delivery of 83 Tejas Mk1a aircraft by the year 2030. IAF proposed the requirement of an indigenous fighter aircraft way back in 1983, but the deal saw success after a long period of struggle. HAL is now planning to deliver 200 Tejas Mk2/MWF aircraft to the IAF by 2026. Although this ambitious project of HAL looks good on paper, it won’t be easy to supply such developed class aircraft to the IAF in such a short period of time.
HAL has previously promised the delivery of Twin-Engine Deck Based Fighter Jet (TEDBF) to the Indian Navy and Omni Role Combat Aircraft (ORCA) to the Indian Air Force. The production schedule of Tejas Mk2/MWF has already been postponed due to the ORCA, which in turn has delayed the development and production schedule of AMCA Mk1. Also, IAF will be receiving at least 100C295 aircraft from the Tata Airbus. Even if the IAF agrees to get all the aircraft, it would not be easy to allot squadrons to all of them, as then the squadron strength will reach 62, much more than the minimum and maximum squadron strengths being of 42 and 52, respectively.
The final decision now lay with the authorities over which aircraft to prefer to develop first, keeping in mind the armed forces’ needs and requirements.