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Amid Ukraine war, India halts KA-31 helicopter deal with Russia

A source said that the sanctions imposed by the United States and other western nations on Russia made it difficult for India to pay for helicopters
nirban Bhaumik
Last Updated : 19 May 2022, 10:33 IST
Last Updated : 19 May 2022, 10:33 IST
Last Updated : 19 May 2022, 10:33 IST
Last Updated : 19 May 2022, 10:33 IST

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The Russia-Ukraine conflict has cast a shadow over India’s plan to procure KA-31 helicopters from the former Soviet Union nation for deployment on the Indian Navy’s new indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.

Though New Delhi was in discussion with Moscow for procuring 10 KA-31 Airborne Early Warning helicopters developed by Kamov JSC of Russia for the Indian Navy, uncertainty now looms large over the proposed $520 million deal.

A source said that the sanctions imposed by the United States and other western nations on Russia for its aggression against Ukraine had made it difficult for India to pay for helicopters proposed to be procured from the former Soviet Union nation, although New Delhi and Moscow were discussing ways to circumvent the sanctions and continue bilateral trade.

Besides, India has doubts over the capability of Russia to deliver the KA-31 AEW helicopters, given the additional pressure on its military-industrial units to support its continuing military offensives in Ukraine, added the source.

India already has 14 KA-31 AEW choppers and it wanted to procure 10 more – four for the INS Vikrant and six to be deployed on new frigates of the Indian Navy.

The Indian Navy wanted the KA-31 AEW helicopters to supplement the radars on its warships as the rotating radars of the choppers could detect any surface or low-flying incoming threat within a radius of 200 Kms.

The commanders of the Indian Army and Navy last month had meetings to assess the implication of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on its security environment as well as the supply of military hardware from both the warring nations.

India's dependence on Russia for military hardware was built over decades. A 2020 report by the Stimson Centre based in Washington D.C. estimated that 90% of defence equipment, weapons and platforms presently used by the Indian Army had originated from Russia. Nearly 86% of the defence equipment currently in military service in India had origins in the former Soviet Union nation.

Russia, according to the sources, might not be able to deliver the second unit of the S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems to India on time due to its military operations in Ukraine and the sanctions imposed by the United States and western nations on it. Some training equipment and simulator for the second unit already arrived though. Russia had in December 2021 delivered the first of the five S-400s India would procure for $ 5.43 billion.

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Published 17 May 2022, 18:21 IST

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