India Cancels Ka-31 Helicopters Order From Russia, Amid Crippling Western Sanctions

An Indian Navy Ka-31 helicopter prepares to land on the flight deck of the U.S. Navy guided-missile cruiser Bunker Hill.

Ever since the conflict in Ukraine began, there have been concerns about how the fighting would affect Russian arms sales to India.

This has been attributed to two major factors: Geopolitical pressure on India to move away from Russian weapons and worries that sanctions and the Ukraine conflict would disrupt supply chains for critical components.

On Tuesday, a US media outlet reported India had halted negotiations with Russia to purchase 10 Ka-31 airborne early-warning helicopters. Defense News reported India had “indefinitely” suspended negotiations with Russian state-owned arms conglomerate Rosobornexport. Defense News reported the “suspension is due to concerns over Moscow’s ability to execute orders as well as issues related to payment transfer”.

Defense News pegged the cost of the 10 helicopters at $520 million. The Indian Navy is believed to operate between 12 and 14 Ka-31 helicopters. It first bought the helicopter in 2003.

The Indian government cleared the Indian Navy’s request to buy additional Ka-31 helicopters in 2019, but negotiations with Russia had been bogged down. “Acquisition talks resumed in February 2022 after negotiators settled on a price of $520 million for 10 Ka-31 helicopters, but the effort hit another snag when officials couldn’t agree on a rupee-ruble currency mechanism,” Defense News reported.

The 10 helicopters had been earmarked to serve on the new aircraft carrier Vikrant, which is undergoing sea trials, and other ships. “Four have been earmarked for deployment aboard INS Vikrant… The remaining six AEW helicopters are intended for four under-construction Project 11356M Talwar-class frigates…” Shephard Media, a British outlet, reported in February.

The Indian government indefinitely suspended the negotiations with Rosoboronexport and original equipment manufacturer Russian Helicopters, an Indian Defence Ministry official told Defense New on condition of anonymity. The official, who was not authorized to speak to the press, said the government-to-government deal added that the suspension is due to concerns over Moscow’s ability to execute orders as well as issues related to payment transfers.

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