Russia is negotiating sales of the Kamov Ka-31 airborne early warning helicopter with up to four countries after completing customer trials of a version for the Indian navy.

Russian arms sales agency Rosoboronexport says talks with the "three or four countries" focus on a variant optimised for operation over land rather than over water. "The other nations are primarily interested in an early warning platform and a target designator for guided weapons," the agency says.

The Indian navy's first four Ka-31s will be ready for delivery later this quarter once the final software problems are resolved. Indian naval personnel are training on the machines in Russia.

The Ka-31s are intended for the ex-Russian navy Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier which is being acquired by India, and for three Russian-built Talval frigates.

India ordered four Ka-31s worth $92 million in August 1999, signing a second $108 million contract for five more in February last year.

The first Indian helicopter, which was assembled at Kumertau-based KUMAPE factory, entered test-flights in May last year.

The Ka-31 has a 6m (19.7ft) antenna under the fuselage, which folds up against the underside for landing and take-off, but provides 360¡ surveillance in-flight. The Oko radar has been developed by Radio Engineering Research Institute in Nizhny Novgorod. It can detect 200 targets and track 20 at a 100-150km (50-80nm) maximum range against airborne targets and 250km against surface targets.

RET Kronshtadt integrated the Indian version's core avionics, including the Kabris satellite-based navigation/mapping system and improved cockpit layout.

Source: Flight International