07 July 2017

News Report: Indian Navy to Splurge on Hundreds of Helicopters for Warships

After the cancellation of two major helicopters tenders, the Indian Navy will soon issue a new tender for 251 helicopters including 140 naval multi-role helicopters.

New Delhi (Sputnik) – The plan to buy 111 light utility helicopters is going to be issued in the next few weeks under the newly-prepared strategic partnership model of country’s defense procurement plan 2016, while another scheme is underway for the 140 multi-role helicopters critical for naval forces, sources told Sputnik.

Under the strategic partnership model, a foreign original equipment manufacturer and one domestic private sector company (strategic partner) will complete the manufacturing plan, where the majority stake will lie with the Indian company. The foreign company will be selected directly by the Indian defense ministry and not the strategic partner from the private sector.

Presently, there is a deficiency to the extent of 100 integral helicopters on existing ships. Indian warship such as INS Chennai, INS Kochi, and INS Delhi are moving without new helicopters. To make up for the deficiency, a mid-life upgrade of 28 Kamov helicopters is being undertaken. Helicopters requirement will go up further as 35 ships are under construction at various shipyards and will be part of the Indian Navy soon. Currently, Indian Navy has 121 ships, 15 submarines and 232 aircraft which may go up to 198 ships and submarines by 2027.

“The Navy has a shortage of anti-submarine warfare and multi-role helicopters which seriously impact, among other things, our anti-submarine warfare preparedness, particularly at a time when the submarine presence in the region is increasing,” Commodore Anil Jai Singh, Indian Navy (Retd) and head of Indian Maritime Foundation told to Sputnik.

India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd is also working on 3-ton light utility helicopters and is expected to freeze the helicopter configuration by the end of this year. The company also unveiled the full-scale model of multi-role helicopter which will have two variants namely naval and non-naval applications. In the naval variant, the helicopter can be stored on the ship deck, oil rig platform, etc.

“It is encouraging that HAL is developing a multi-role helicopter but it would be better if they would do it in collaboration with a leading global OEM. This would enable quicker development, contemporary technology and would address the Navy's need better,” Anil Jai Singh added.

Last month, a few days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US, the Indian defense ministry retracted 16 naval multi-role helicopter tender with American firm Sikorsky after it failed to reach a mutually agreed price despite making efforts since 2014.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.