New Delhi. 26 December, 2015. Defence relations between India and the Russian Federation have a historical perspective. The Soviet Union was an important supplier of defence equipment for several decades, and that relationship was inherited by Russia after the break-up of the Soviet Union. In 1997, Russia and India signed a ten-year agreement for further military-technical cooperation. That agreement encompassed a wide range of activities, including the purchase of completed weaponry, joint development and production, and joint marketing of armaments and military technologies.

Today, the co-operation is not limited to a buyer-seller relationship but includes joint research and development, training, service to service contacts, including joint exercises. And India’s not so rosy relationship as far as defence procurement is considered in recent times, seems now to be back on track.

Modi Government’s  major project under the ‘Make in India’ will be the production of Kamov-226T utility helicopters in India. Under the agreement, 200 Ka-226T helicopters will be built by HAL in India. Russian helicopters will also partner with India’s Reliance group to make some major components and the execution will be done at a location to be announced later. But it may be recalled that the company has decided to set up a Rotary Wing Helicopter Unit in Bhopal, which could probably be the unannounced location.

“The Inter-Governmental Agreement on manufacture of Kamov 226 helicopter in India is the first project for a major defence platform under the Make in India mission. It is rightly with our most important defence partner,” Modi said addressing a press conference.

This is yet another feather in Anil Ambani led Reliance Group’s already full cap. Matching steps with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India initiative, this will be executed under a Joint Venture between Kamov and the chopper arm of Reliance Defence post acquiring an industrial licence. It may be recalled that the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar cleared the proposal in May, 2015.