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The Narendra Modi government’s grand plans to bring in the private sector into the defence sector has received its first reality check with Russia refusing to sign up with a private sector partner for manufacturing helicopters, instead opting to go with the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
The move, confirmed by official sources and Russia’s Rostec on Tuesday, is contrary to the much-hyped claim about Russian willingness to partner an Indian private sector company to make over 200 Kamov-226T light utility helicopters in India under technology transfer. Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence was seen as the front-runner to partner the Russians.
“The organisation for the manufacture of helicopters is provided by the creation of a Russian-Indian joint venture in India, which includes holdings of Rostec-JSC Rosoboronexport and Russian Helicopters, and on the India side – the corporation HAL”, CEO of the Rostec State Corporation, Sergei Chemezov said in a statement in Moscow.
One of the key themes of the Modi government’s push for Make in India in defence sector is to facilitate the entry of the private sector into it, and the Anil Ambani group has been at the vanguard of this move. The group recently acquired the Pipavav Shipyard, has created a cluster of companies, applied for over a dozen manufacturing licences for submarines to UAVs and is involved in active discussion with several foreign companies.
“The Inter-Governmental Agreement on manufacture of Kamov 226 helicopter in India is the first project for a major defence platform under the Make in India mission,” Mr. Modi said in Moscow last week in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin after the inter-governmental agreement was signed. The Kamovs will replace the ageing Cheetah and Chetak helicopters which have been in service with the military for several decades. Over 400 of these helicopters are in service in India.
The transfer of technology to domestic companies and manufacture of complex military ware are to be at the core of self-reliance efforts, and through them developing a robust military industrial complex in India. This was to be in contrast to the past deals under which several military hardware was being assembled in the country by HAL and other government-run companies.
Informed sources in New Delhi confirmed that Russian Helicopters has conveyed to the Modi government that it would go with HAL as its Indian partner given its experience in assembling military platforms. And India has agreed.
While HAL officials did not respond to questions on the issue, in a related development Mr. Modi will lay the foundation stone for HAL’s new helicopter manufacturing facility at Tumakuru, around 100 km from Bengaluru on January 3.
From: The Hindu