ANIL DHIRUBHAI AMBANI GROUP RUSSIAN FIRM WEIGH HELICOPTER JV http://www.mydigitalfc.com/news/adag-russian-firm-weigh-helicopter-jv-606 Anil Ambani entity seeks to make Kamov Ka 226T choppers in India by Vikas Srivastav Three months after acquiring Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering, the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (Adag), now Reliance Group, is seeking to increase its presence in the defence space. Reliance Defence has emerged front runner to form a joint venture with helicopter design and manufacturing company, Russian Helicopters, to manufacture 200 light helicopters in India. Separately, the company is also in discussions with the French government for helicopter manufacturing. Reliance Defence is a subsidiary of Reliance Infrastructure. People close to the development told Financial Chronicle that the company is in talks with the Moscow-headquartered firm for the production of Kamov Ka 226 light helicopters, for which a joint venture would be set up in the country. Kamov Ka 226 light helicopters are expected to replace the ageing fleet of Cheetah helicopters that are being used to service deployments in the Siachen glacier. Indian manufacturers like Reliance Infra, HAL, L&T and Tatas see huge opportunity in the $130 billion defence modernisation drive that the Indian government has undertaken. India will spend close to Rs 2,00,000 crore on defence during this financial year, which is 11 per cent of the Rs 17,80,000 crore Union budget for FY16. Almost half of this money will go into capital expenditure to acquire defence ware and modernization of existing systems. In pursuant of the deal and seeking to expand its defence services, Reliance Group is in talks with several states, including Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Goa, which have shown interest in setting up defence production units. An email questionnaire sent to Reliance Infrastructure elicited no response. The Reliance Infrastructure spokesperson simply said: “We are interested in the defence sector, but do not want to comment on market speculation.” Russian Helicopters is exploring a partnership with Hindustan Aeronautics and a few other private firms also. The company has, however, ruled out a deal with the Sun Group, which was one of the contenders and whose chairman and promoter, Shiv Khemka, has been a non-executive director on the board of Russian Helicopters, sources said. Reliance Defence recently applied for around a dozen licences for development and production of military systems such as missiles, submarines and aircraft. It also wants to produce landing systems, unmanned aviation, electronics and development of engines, besides manufacturing spacecraft and satellites. The company plans to set up units for maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of both aircraft and naval vessels.