The helicopter should soon join the Indian military’s fleet, with a contract under discussion for a long time, including at recent meetings between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
As a helicopter buzzes in circles despite a blizzard, thousands are busy working in the huge hangars of a Siberia-based aircraft maker, eager to win a contract with India that would be a major coup for Russia’s defence industry.
“It can drop to minus 40 degrees in winter or soar to plus 40 (40-104 Fahrenheit) in summer here, allowing us to test the machines in extreme conditions,” chief engineer Sergei Solomin said as he walked on the frozen tarmac, a fur hat keeping him warm.
Launched in 1939 in the main city of Russia’s Buryatia region that lies on Lake Baikal and the border with Mongolia, the factory belonging to the Russian Helicopters holding company once churned out thousands of Mi-8 helicopters popular in many different countries — but also washing machines.
The Ka-266T has engines manufactured by France’s Safran that allow the helicopter to land safely if one fails.
The helicopter could soon join the Indian military’s fleet, with long-running contract discussions, including at recent meetings between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Over the following nine years, 60 Ka-266Ts would be built in Russia and 140 more in India, as part of a joint venture, with the possibility of export to third countries.
The Ulan-Ude factory has a rich history.
These days the factory just produces civilian and military helicopters. Only about 50 are made annually, down from 300 during the facility’s Soviet heyday. The oil industry has been a leading customer of the civilian models.
Russian Technologies, or ROSTEC a giant military-industrial conglomerate uniting Russian factories, has announced its intention to increase production of civilian products to 50 percent by 2025, focusing on exports.
In November, the organisers of the Farnborough air show in Britain announced they would not include Russian military aircraft in the 2018 show.
Russian Helicopters’ CEO shrugged this off.
“The exhibition attracts mostly neighbouring countries, and northern Europe is not a very important area for us,” said Boginsky. “There are other shows.
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