Naval utility helicopter tender scrapped, made bigger

Issue: 5 / 2014 By SP's Special Correspondent October 20, 2014 Photo(s): By AgustaWestland, Airbus Helicopters
Airbus Panther

Following the recent cancellation of the 197 reconnaissance & surveillance helicopter (RSH) competition, the MoD has followed up by cancelling the 56 naval utility helicopter (NUH) tender as well, and refloating it as a similar 'Buy & Make (Indian)' competition for 100 helicopters. The earlier tender saw Airbus Helicopters' AS 565 MB Panther (the militarised navalised Dauphin) and the AgustaWestland AW109 Koala LUH in the fray, though the contest had not progressed beyond the preliminary phase. The Indian Navy has stipulated in the fresh RFI that it needs the 100 helicopters to sport full SAR & utility capabilities, HADR (high availability disaster recover) capability, anti-piracy & anti terrorism and limited maritime surveillance & targeting capability. Also, the helicopter should be twin-engine platform, with a wheeled landing gear and bade fold capability. The helicopter should be capable of operating from ship and shore. For its required maritime surveillance and targeting capability, the navy has stipulated that weapons to meet those roles will likely need to be fittable. The ‘Buy & Make (Indian)’ decision, which the Narendra Modi government has shown its preference for, mandates purchase from an Indian vendor (including an Indian company forming joint venture/ establishing production arrangement with OEM), followed by licensed production and indigenous manufacture in the country. The category makes compulsory minimum 50% indigenous content on cost basis, which implies that indigenous content in the total of (i) basic cost of equipment; (ii) cost of manufacturers’ recommended list of spares; and (iii) cost of special maintenance tools and special test equipment, must be at least 50% of the total contract value. AgustaWestland and Airbus Helicopters, in addition to other firms may participate.