The exact details of the local production still have to be worked out, but sources in New Delhi say some of the initial agreement of 200 choppers might be bought directly from the Russian production plant; illustrating the need of India to quickly beef up its number of helicopters.
The Ka-226T is likely starting the replacement of 34 Cheetahs (Alouette II) of the Air Force and the 48 Cheetahs of the Indian Navy, built under license by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). In the second phase the 74 remaining HAL Chetaks (Alouette III) of the Air Force and the 60 of the Indian Army might see decommissioning with the introduction of the Kamovs. The Ka-225Ts are to serve next to the somewhat troubled HAL Dhruv, India’s indigenous helicopter development. Other Ka-226T will be fielded on the civilian market.
For the first time in 25 years the Russian Air Force held a large-scale joint exercise in the beginning of July between the Russian Air Defence Forces and the combat aircraft of the Western Military District in the skies of and near St. Petersburg, relatively close to borders with Finland and the Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
About two dozen Sukhoi Su-34s and Su-27s plus Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 SMTs and MiG-31s took up a simulated air war against Russia’s own radar systems, self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery and S-300 surface-to-air missile units. The exercise included surprise bombing attacks from three directions on strategic targets in the St. Petersburg area. Purpose of the “city bombing” training was to help train aircrews to penetrate heavily defended areas to hit vital enemy locations on the ground.
Of course, no real bombs were dropped. All “hits” were recorded electronically to measure the success of the bombing crews and the air defence opposing them.
Parallel to exercise in the St. Petersburg area, the Russian Northern fleet put up air-to-surface and anti-submarine warfare exercises. Tupolev Tu-142 bombers and Ilyushin IL-38 patrol aircraft worked out bombing procedures, while Kamov Ka-27 helicopters dropped torpedoes. The main mission was to train the flight crews in the search and identification of enemy submarines.
Secondary air ice reconnaissance missions were flown over the Arctic Sea – especially the so-called Northern Sea Route which is a shipping short-cut from Western Europe to Asia when ice conditions allow it.
The Russian Army has turned up the volume to put some pressure on the Baltic countries Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Since this week a new attack / assault helicopter brigade is buzzing NATO’s eastern flank from Ostrov Airbase, about 20 miles (32 km) east of the border with Latvia.
The formerly run-down, reserve base has been gearing up ever since December 2013, when the 15th Army Aviation Brigade was officially formed at Ostrov. Since this week three helicopter squadrons operating tens of attack and assault/transport helicopters apparently make daily training flights, according to several reports we received.
One squadron operates the Mil Mi-28N Night Hunter, a second the Kamov Ka-52 Alligator. Both are splendid attack helicopters that you don’t want to face if your on the other side of the battlefield.
The third squadron operates the Mil Mi-26T heavy-lift choppers as well as Mil Mi-8MTV-5s, bringing a great supply line to any forward operating units. The Russian Western Military District earlier said it will bring Ostrov’s 15th AAB up to a total of five squadrons – not disclosing yet what the additional two units will fly for type of aircraft.
The proximity of Ostrov to the rest of Europe brings the capitals of the Baltic states plus Finland – and there military facilities, within striking distance of large and in theory formidable attack helicopter force. Centrally and strategically located Riga – the capital of Latvia – can be reached in about an hour. No wonder the Baltic states have become a bit more nervous lately about the Russian pressure on their doorstep.
NATO’s secretary general pleaded as late as last week again for alliance’s member states to put more dough into their military, while non-NATO members Sweden and Finland are getting closer to tighter military cooperation between the two of them.
LATEST UPDATE 15 APRIL 2014 | Russia has released one Ukrainian Navy Be-12 amphibious aircraft and two Ka-27 maritime helicopters from Saky Naval Air Station on the Crimea on 14 April 2014. Saky was seized by Russian forces in March 2014 when they took over the whole of the peninsula by force, however with almost no bloodshed.
The Beriev Be-12 arrived by air from Saky and landed on the Ukrainian Air Base at Nikolaev (Mikolaev), where Ukrainian Su-25s are based. Despite the not superb state the crew deemed the condition of the aircraft good enough for flight.
Moreover two Kamov Ka-27 maritime helicopters arrived in Nikolaev by rail from Saky, with a third expected soon. Beside the air assets Ukrainian Navy tanker vessel Fastiv and missile corvette Pryluky were also given back to Ukraine by Russia. Unable to make it on their own, they were tugged from Sevastopol at the Crimea to Odesa Naval Base. The working vessel Balta arrived in Odesa on 15 April 2014. None of these returned ships have air assets.
Russia’s sole fully capable aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, is moving again as of 28 March 2014. The Northern Fleet flagship has spent the past months on a long journey from its home in Murmansk.
The Kuznetsov, officially designated heavy aircraft carrying missile cruiser (tyazholyy avianesushchiy raketnyy kreyser or TAVKR), has been restocked by the tanker Sergey Osipov in the eastern Mediterranean and is now moving to an operations area south-west of the island of Cyprus, the Russian Ministry of Defence confirmed. Over the next few days naval aviators from the Northern Fleet Air Wing will practice carrier qualification and operation flights with their Sukhoi Su-33s fighter jets and Kamov Ka-27 maritime helicopters.
During the long voyage of the flagship of the Russian navy, which began on 17 December 2013, the Northern Fleet Air Wing pilots have made 300 sorties accumulating 260 hours of flight. Although new MiG-29K Fulcrums are coming into service to enlarge the combat capabilities of the Russian Navy Aviation, they were not mentioned in Moscow’s press release.