Russian Helicopters and Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) have formed a joint venture for the production of 200 Kamov Ka-226T “Sergei” light utility helicopters.

The joint venture will oversee the development of facilities to produce the rotorcraft and maintain them, says Russian Helicopters in a statement.

"The joint venture for local production of Ka-226T is a profoundly new and substantial step in the development of cooperation between India and Russia,” says Rostec chief executive Sergei Chemezov.

“The fleet of Russian-made helicopters in India is over 400 units. But this is the first of such large-scale complex agreements for delivery and production of new helicopters in the amount of 200 units, which is fully in line with the Make in India initiative. In addition, over the next five years there will be facilities set up for maintenance and servicing of the produced helicopters. Therefore the agreement represents not just a contract for production but for full lifecycle support."

The first 60 helicopters will be produced in Russia, and the subsequent 140 in India.

Indian production facilities need to be ready in five years, and maintenance facilities in seven years.

In May 2015, New Delhi’s Defence Acquisition Council selected the Ka-226T for a long running requirement for 197 reconnaissance and surveillance helicopters.

The army and air force have had pending requirements for over a decade to acquire 133 and 64 RSH aircraft, respectively, to replace their obsolescent Cheetah and Chetak light helicopters.