Washington Institute For Defence & SecurityWashington Institute For Defence & SecurityWashington Institute For Defence & Security
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Following the uncertainty in military supply caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, India has terminated discussions with Russia to buy ten Kamov Ka-31 airborne early warning helicopters for $520 million.

According to an Indian Defense Ministry official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the Indian government has paused discussions with Rosoboronexport and original equipment maker Russian Helicopters indefinitely. The individual, who was not allowed to speak to the press, stated that the suspension is owing to worries about Moscow’s capacity to fulfill instructions as well as complications with financial transfers.

The suspension, according to Indian Navy sources, is a setback for the military since the Ka-31 helicopters are required for the country’s second aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, which was built in India and will be commissioned in July.

According to Amit Cowshish, a former finance adviser for acquisitions at the ministry, the suspension might also be due to geopolitical pressure as the world community condemns Russia’s February 24 attack on Ukraine. Other considerations might include fiscal limits and India’s preference for domestically made helicopters, he noted.

He also mentioned that a standstill in discussions over technical and budgetary concerns may have played a role.

In May 2019, India requested Ka-31 helicopters from Russia, however the purchase program was delayed owing to the coronavirus epidemic and the platform’s expensive cost.

Negotiators agreed on a price of $520 million for ten Ka-31 helicopters in February 2022, but the plan met another hurdle when authorities couldn’t agree on a rupee-ruble currency arrangement.

According to the MoD source, India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India, has been working nonstop since March 2022 to build an alternative payment method, but negotiators have yet to reach a deal.

Neither the government nor the Navy will comment on whether India is looking at alternatives to the airborne early warning craft.

The Navy now uses 14 Ka-31 helicopters, which were gradually introduced — four in 2003, five in 2005, and five in 2013 — and rely on the original equipment manufacturer for spare parts, maintenance, and overhaul assistance.

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