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Three Russian Kamov-226 helicopters in high-altitude India trials

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Kamov -226 Sergei Light Multipurpose Helicopter. Air force technology photo.

NEW DELHI (PTI): Russia has brought three of its Kamov-226 light multi-purpose helicopters to join trials in high altitude areas of Jammu and Kashmir for the Indian armed forces' requirement for 197 such choppers.

"We have brought the Ka-226 helicopters for the high altitude trials that are going on at present. We are competing in the bids against Eurocopter and Agusta Westland," Rosoboronexport's deputy director general Victor Komardin said here on Tuesday.

Ka-226, an upgraded version of the Ka-26 choppers, will be competing in the trials against European chopper manufacturer Eurocopter's AS-550 and British-Italian major Agusta Westland's AW119 helicopters for the tenders.

The tenders were floated last year to equip the army with 133 and the IAF with 64 such choppers to replace its ageing 350-helicopter Cheetah and Chetak fleet.

While 197 of these choppers would be bought off the shelf, another 187 would be manufactured within India by the Defence Public Sector Undertaking Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

Komardin also told reporters at the DefExpo here that Russia would deliver the fifth and the last of the Illushin-38 maritime aircraft to the Indian Navy on Wednesday.

"The aircraft would arrive in Goa and this would complete the upgrading programme for the IL-38s. With this, we have completed the upgrade of all five of the IL-38s," he added.

IL-38s are long-range maritime aircraft in the navy's aviation fleet with a 7,200-km range touching speeds of 650 kmph.

The Russians have provided five naval aircraft with a Sea Dragon multi-mission and electronic warfare suite.

Komardin also expressed happiness over induction of the first four of the 16 MiG-29K fighter aircraft by the Indian Navy.

Theaircraft were bought along with the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier in 2004 for USD 526 million.

The carrier-borne fighter aircraft would be commissioned at Goa's INS Hansa, which also has a facility for the aircraft to operate from the shore.

The navy has already established a shore-based facility for training its pilots in short take-off and arrested landing skills, the configuration in which the Gorshkov is being remodified for India by Russia's Sevmash Shipyard.

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