Russian deal for Mig-29, Ka-31 and Ka-226T with India remains stalled, SU-30 MKI under negotiations

In June 2020, the Indian Air Force urged the Indian government to consider the urgent purchase of 21 MiG-29s and 12 SU-30MKIs, which came against the backdrop of the Indian-Chinese conflict.

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

At the Aero India 2023 show, Vladimir Drozhzhov, deputy head of Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSVTS), stated that the two nations are now negotiating contracts for the delivery of Su-30MKI fighter kit components for licenced production in India. 

He stated that all of the essential bids for purchasing MiG-29 fighters and Ka-31 helicopters had been delivered to Indian partners in 2021, reports Interfax.

“We are waiting for an invitation to conduct contract negotiations,” said the deputy head of the FSMTC.

In June 2020, citing sources, ANI stated that the Indian Air Force urged the Indian government to consider the urgent purchase of 21 MiG-29s and 12 Su-30MKIs. The agency observed that this proposal, which involves hastening the decision on the purchase of military equipment, came against the backdrop of the Indian-Chinese conflict that occurred in June 2020 on the border of the two countries. The conflict took place on the Indian side of the border.

The deal for the purchase of 21 Russian MiG-29 fighters, the upgrade of 59 Indian MiG-29s, and the licence production of 12 Su-30MKI fighters was approved by the Indian Ministry of Defense on July 2, 2020. In addition, it was speculated that preparations were being made to purchase six helicopters of the Russian Ka-31 model. The Russian Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation predicted that the contracts would be finalised before the end of the year 2020.

In February 2021, Drozhzhov stated that these agreements could not be completed due to the coronavirus but that “the negotiation process is underway.”

The chairman of the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade, Denis Manturov, stated in August 2021 that “the issue of supplying kits for the production of an additional batch of Su-30MKI aircraft requires some time to be worked out due to the need to include new aviation weapons and electronic equipment in their composition.”

The Indian Ministry of Defense estimates that the cost of purchasing and modernising a MiG-29 will be approximately $980 million. The purchase of Su-30MKI fighters, manufactured in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. under a licence from the Russian government, is estimated to cost approximately $1.4 billion.

Purchase of Ka-226T 

Negotiations with India on the production of Russian Ka-226T helicopters have stalled since the targeted level of localisation of joint production has yet to be met, according to Vladimir Drozhzhov.

The Indian Air Force needs Russian Ka-226T helicopters to replace its inventory of outdated Cheetah and Chetak helicopters. 

The Ka 226T was introduced in 2001 as a multi-purpose helicopter by the Kamov Design Bureau, which is part of the Russian Helicopters corporation. It is now serially produced at (Kumertau Aviation Production Enterprise KumAPP). Russian Helicopters’ Ka 226T is a light, twin-engine, multi-role utility helicopter with a coaxial, contra-rotating main rotor configuration that allows for compact proportions. Its 580 HP, FADEC-equipped Arrius engines are from the French power plant manufacturer Turbomeca (SAFRAN). It has an AUW of 3.6 tonnes with an internal load and 3.8 tonnes with an under-slung load and can carry up to 1.05 tonne of cargo in the cabin or 1.1 tonne under-slung.

Vladimir Drozhzhov clarified that Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, the Indian aircraft manufacturing business, provides the Indian Army with a light multi-purpose helicopter of its design. However, it lacks some features of the Russian helicopter.

The Ka-226T has an advantage over the Chetak/Cheetah and the LUH in terms of survivability in hazardous terrain due to its dual-engine design. It has a higher cruise speed of 250 kmph than the Chetak, which has a speed of 185 kmph, and a range of 600 km, which is greater than the Chetak’s range of 500 km. It has a much shorter fuselage than the much lighter Chetak, which is 10.03 metres long due to the tail boom necessary to accommodate the tail rotor – a design feature not required in an axial rotor design. The coaxial main rotor arrangement and lack of a tail rotor make it safer on the ground and in the air and allow the Ka 226T to operate in tight locations because the fuselage does not extend beyond the area swept by the rotors. The rear opening door provides additional security, and its use is unrestricted due to the lack of a tail rotor.

The executive head of the FSMTC stated that the Indian Ministry of Defense expected to purchase ready-built Ka-226Ts simultaneously, but no specific decisions have been taken.

Previously, it was stated that the Moscow Aviation Institute had created a virtual model of the Ka-226 helicopter’s fuel system to safeguard rotorcraft against spills and fuel ignitions during hard landings and accidents.


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