India to float $5bn tender for 234 naval choppers: Here is all you need to know

Updated on Aug 23, 2017 08:05 PM IST

The Indian Navy wants to buy 234 helicopters to replace its ageing fleet of Sea Kings and Chetaks.

ASea King variant. The Indian Navy is looking to replace its ageing fleet of Sea Kings and Chetaks.(Indian Navy)
ASea King variant. The Indian Navy is looking to replace its ageing fleet of Sea Kings and Chetaks.(Indian Navy)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

The Indian Navy is expected to float global tenders for 234 helicopters, costing more than $5 billion, by middle of 2018 to replace its outdated Westland Sea Kings choppers and French-designed Chetak helicopters.

Facing a crippling shortage, the navy launched a global hunt for 123 naval multi-role helicopters (NMRHs) and 111 naval utility helicopters (NUHs) by releasing two requests for information (RFIs) on Tuesday.

The NMRHs are to replace Sea Kings and the NUHs will replace the Chetaks. The helicopters will be built in the country by an Indian firm in partnership with a foreign defence contractor.

Some of the machines will be purchased directly from the foreign vendor in keeping with the strategic partnership procurement policy that stipulates “a minimum number of platforms, not exceeding 10-15% of the number of units being procured, may be manufactured on the premises of the original equipment manufacturer”.

As defence contractors prepare to respond to the RFIs by October 6, a lowdown on the helicopters the navy is planning to shop for:

Naval multi-role helicopters:

1 The twin-engine helicopter will have two variants: NMRH (multi-role) and NMRH (special operations).

2 The multi-role chopper will be used for anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, search and rescue, electronic intelligence and casualty evacuation.

The special operations variant will perform roles including transporting commandos, anti-piracy operations, combat search and rescue, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) and logistics and communication duties.

3 The 12.5-tonne helicopters, capable of operating from ships and ashore, will have wheeled landing gear, dual flying controls and blade fold capability.

4 In line with the Modi government’s Make in India initiative, the vendors have been asked to maximise the indigenous content of the NMRH. The navy has stipulated it should not be less than 40%.

5 The helicopter must be capable of night missions, including hovering over sea in night conditions.

6 The navy had asked manufacturers if it was possible to install weapons of its choice in lieu of those proposed by them. It wants two types of anti-ship missiles: Long-range fire and forget missile with 70-km range and short range missile with a range of 25km.

Naval utility helicopters:

1 The five-tonne NUHs will carry out several roles such as search and rescue, medical evacuation, communication duties, anti-piracy and anti-terrorism operations, HADR and surveillance and targeting.

2 The twin-engine helicopter will also be flown by two pilots, have wheeled landing gear and blade fold capability. Like the NMRHs, these choppers will also have 40% indigenous content.

3 Few of the helicopters will be initially delivered in the basic version to meet the navy’s immediate requirements of training and search and rescue. These will be later upgraded to perform all roles. The majority of the navy’s 140 warships are operating without choppers.

4 The navy wants 15 NUHs supplied within five years of signing of the contract and remaining 96 between five and 13 years of the contract under the “make category”.

5 The navy has asked foreign vendors if the choppers can carry at sea level a minimum of six passengers or 420 kg cargo inside the cabin or 500-kg loads under slung or two stretchers with one patient each and at least one medical attendant.

6 The navy has also sought to know if the NUH can achieve a continuous cruise speed of not be less than 125 knots and if the ceiling of the helicopter will be above 10,000 feet.


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