Less dependent on Moscow: Indo-US helicopter looms on the horizon
NEW DELHI ($1=82.29 Indian Rupees) — It is no secret that New Delhi has been dependent on Russian military production, at least in recent decades. But India took another path by launching the Made in India for the World program. Attempts by the Asian country to reduce its dependence on Russia and other countries began long ago, and by all accounts, it seems that they will be successful.
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Just days ago, India’s Tata Advanced Systems [TASL] signed an agreement with Airbus to manufacture military transport aircraft. The number has been specified – 40 Airbus C295 units will be built in India, which means “more fuel in the engine of the Indian economy”. By 2031, the planes are expected to be produced at the company’s factory, which will carry out 96% of the work on their production.
New Delhi has significantly improved its relations with Washington. The US F-18 is the finalist in the tender for a naval aircraft in the Indian Navy’s newest aircraft carrier. F-16 fighter wings are made in TATA workshops, and the S-130 military transport aircraft is assembled from parts made in India.
New Delhi is about to completely change the Russian dominance in the field of air weapons systems imposed over the years in India. The reason: TATA and Lockheed Martin are negotiating for the production of a stealth helicopter – the SR-76 Sikorsky.
Sources in India say that the talks are in the initial phase. A positive end and signing of the deal are expected. If the deal goes through, it will be a milestone in local aircraft engineering and manufacturing.
Sikorsky’s iconic SR-76 military helicopter could change the business model of small Indian suppliers, local media say. Production of thousands of components will become part of their portfolio. India will want a large number of helicopters to be manufactured at TATA plants, and this allows the US to disrupt the Kremlin’s influence not only in India but throughout the Asian region.
India holds a strong trump card in its hand – it already makes components and equipment for another key US flagship – the S-92 helicopter. Aerostructures for the cabin are made at Tata Sikorsky Aerospace Ltd [TSAL] – a joint venture, as the name suggests. 154 cabs have already been delivered to the US since 2010, and the entire structural body of the cab is built from 100% local precision components and parts, totaling 5,000 pieces.
And last but not least – F-21. The F-21 is a variant of the American F-16 but was developed solely for the Indian Air Force. The US tried to woo India by offering an almost perfect deal. I.e. if India places an order for 114 helicopters, the US guarantees that the F-21s remain solely for India and that maintenance, repairs, and upgrades will be done in India.
The chances of the SR-76 Sikorsky finding a new manufacturing home in the face of the Indian defense industry are high. India wants it, the US wants it, and the region wants it. Russia does not want it, but this is exactly the perfect scenario for Washington.
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