Sputnik Opinion
In-depth analysis of regional & global events provided by Indian & foreign experts - from politics & economics to sci-tech & health.

New Russian VK-650V Engine Could Revive India's Ka-226T Local Manufacture Project

© Photo : Social MediaKamov 226T helicopter, Ka-226T
Kamov 226T helicopter, Ka-226T - Sputnik India, 1920, 03.07.2024
Russia's Rostec reported on June 21 that its subsidiary UEC (United Engine Corporation) has delivered the first experimental VK-650V engines for flight design tests.
The first prototypes of the VK-650V, produced at the St. Petersburg enterprise UEC-Klimov, successfully passed preliminary and resource tests.
The engine, which is currently undergoing certification tests at the stands of the Central Institute of Aviation Motors (CIAM), is simultaneously being prepared for ground testing on Ansat multi-purpose helicopters.
VK-650V is the first Russian vehicle engine in the 650-750 hp power class. It is designed for Russian built multi-purpose and special helicopters with a takeoff weight of up to 4 tons.
The power plant should replace foreign engines on Ansat and Ka-226T aircrafts.
Successful flight testing and certification of the VK-650V engine, which is planned to be completed by the end of this year, could prove significant for India. It could revive the Indian MoD (Ministry of Defence) project to locally manufacture Ka-226T helicopters.

Russian Import Substitution Success

The short development time frame of the VK-650V is truly impressive. The first VK-650V demonstrator engine was assembled in December 2020. At the beginning of 2021, the first successful start-up was carried out with ignition of the combustion chamber. Engine certification started in 2023.
The Kazan Ansat helicopter is currently powered by two PW 207K turboshaft engines developed by Pratt & Whitney Canada. Each engine provides a maximum takeoff power of 630 hp and contingency power of 710 hp.
The Kamov Ka-226T helicopter is powered by two Arrius 2G1 engines developed by Turbomeca (a Safran Group company). Each engine generates a take-off power of 580 hp and a contingency power of 705 hp.
© Photo : Social MediaRussian VK-650V Engine
Russian VK-650V Engine - Sputnik India, 1920, 03.07.2024
Russian VK-650V Engine

India's Planned Ka-226T Acquisition

On December 24, 2015, during Indian PM Narendra Modi's visit to Russia for the annual summit meeting, India and Russia signed an agreement to jointly manufacture Kamov Ka-226T light-utility helicopters in India at HAL.
According to the agreement, Russia and India will jointly manufacture no less than 200 aircrafts for use by Indian Armed Forces. Additional helicopters may be manufactured for use by the Indian civil sector and export.
Under the contract, the first 40 Ka-226Ts are to be produced in Russia by the country's JSC Kumertau Aviation Production Company and assembled in India. The remaining 160 units are to be manufactured and assembled in India with increasing localization. (It was earlier reported that the first 60 Ka-226Ts would be produced in Russia and the remaining 140 in India.)


The Ka-226Ts is proposed to be manufactured locally in India by a joint venture (JV) Indo-Russian Helicopters company. HAL owns 50.5% of the venture, Russian Helicopters – 42.5% and Rosoboronexport – 7%.
The JV planned to manufacture the items at Tumkur in Karnataka by 2025.
About 72% of Ka-226T components were of Russian origin. Also there's a French engine and some other western origin components.
During initial contract negotiations, Russia offered 60% indigenisation of components manufactured in Russia.
In November 2019, India reportedly asked Russia to review the level of localasation to higher levels.
Russia agreed to step up indigenisation. Indo-Russian Helicopters Ltd CEO N M Srinath told the press during DefExpo 2020 that the helicopters to be produced in India will have around 70 per cent Indian-origin components out of the 72 percent Russian indigenisation.
Overall, he said, the percentage of the Indian-origin component in the chopper will be around 40 per cent.

Ka-226T, Day/Night Light Multipurpose Russian Helicopter

In January 2022, the Ka-226T local manufacture project was one of the 10 projects reviewed by the Defence Procurement Board (DPB) in the context of the endeavour to cut back on procurements of defence equipment from abroad.
The Indian press cited HAL's progress with the development of the Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) in the context of the review.
The LUH is a 3-ton Class helicopter being developed by the defence company to meet the requirements of both military and civil operators. The project was launched in 2009.
The LUH features a Safran HE Ardiden-1U engine rated at 750 KW, the LUH has a maximum all-up weight (AUW) of 3150 Kgs. It can seat 6 – a crew of 2 and 4 passengers.
The LUH received initial operational clearance (IOC) for use by the Indian Army from Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) on February 05, 2021. The DAC (Defence Acquisition Committee) on November 2, 2021 accorded AoN (Acceptance of Necessity) for procurement of 12 LUH from HAL.
On November 29, 2021, MoS for Defence Ajay Bhatt told parliament that the aerospace company would deliver four LUH (2 ea.to the IA & IAF) in FY 2022-23 and another eight LUHs (4 ea to the IA & IAF) by 2023-24.
"This would be followed by the manufacture of series production (SP) of the helicopters by HAL," Bhatt said. (No LUH deliveries have taken place so far.)
Following the January 2022 review, the Ka-226T project went into limbo.

Technological Gains from Ka-226T Local Manufacture

Local manufacture of the Ka-226T will allow HAL to imbibe the know-how and technology that goes into helicopters with coaxial rotor blades.
Coaxial rotors provide improved stability, enhanced agility and responsiveness, improved ground clearance and greater lifting capability for given rotor diameter.
Also, the Ka-226T is the first Russian helicopter to be built using digital design documentation, significantly reducing the time taken to create the machine and to start flight tests. HAL is likely to gain substantially from its exposure to digital twin technology.
Finally, the VK-650V can be modified for use on light and UAVs of aircrafts and helicopter types.


It is important to note that the contract for local manufacture of the Ka-226T project was signed by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The project went into limbo because at the time of contract signing, the helicopter was powered by French engines. France has since denied Russia access to the engines. Russia cannot fulfil its obligations as an OEM without access to Arrius 2G1 engines.
Significantly, lack of progress since January 2022 notwithstanding, India hasn't cancelled the project.
With the availability of an all Russian power plant, its time for India and Russia to put behind them the force majeure delay in project implementation.
Russia is now in a position to offer India the Ka-226T with 100% Russian components, an unexpected bonanza that goes well beyond the terms of the contract.
Russia and India could now negotiate indigenisation levels at par with the 70% indigenisation achieved with HAL's LUH.
While being proud of the LUH, we need to keep in mind the fact that the aerospace and defence comopany will be hard pressed to manufacture the LUH at a pace adequate to address the urgency to replace the ageing fleet of light helicopters in the Indian Armed Forces.
To participate in the discussion
log in or register
Заголовок открываемого материала