India Adding Ka-31 AEW Helicopters
Indian media report that India and Russia will sign a contract for 5 more Russian Kamov-31 airborne early warning helicopters, after India’s Cabinet Committee of Security (CCS) cleared the purchase on Aug 4/09. The rumored cost is INR 9.5 billion (about $195-200 million), but that remains to be finalized in negotiations. Note that transparency is often low with Russian contracts, and India has often found that the final price differs from any negotiated deal with Russian firms.
The Indian Navy currently operates 9 Ka-31s, deploying them on its remaining aircraft carrier INS Viraat, its 3 Talwar class guided missile frigates, and key shore facilities. The aircraft’s belly-mounted NIIRT E-801M Oko (Eye) radar folds down and begins rotating once deployed, and can track 30-40 targets over a much larger horizon that ships’ radars – about 200 km for ships, and 100-200 km for fighter aircraft sized targets. This makes it an important complement for naval task forces whose ships are too small to operate a full fixed-wing AEW aircraft like America’s E-2 Hawkeyes; Britain’s Sea King ASaC Mk7 helicopters serve a similar role. domain-b | The Hindu | Indian Express | The Times of India loks at India’s broad helicopter plans.