Helicopter Companies Eyeing Naval Acquisitions

The ninth edition of the air show, which was bereft of any fighter aircraft competition, however, saw helicopter companies such as AgustaWestland, Eurocopter, Sikorsky and Russian Helicopters, showcasing their products, considering that there are four major naval contests happening

Issue: 2 / 2013By R. Chandrakanth

Aero India 2013, which was held at the Yelahanka Air Force base, Bengaluru from February 6 to 10, attracted 607 companies with 352 foreign and 78 official delegations. The major foreign companies were from the United States (67), France (49), United Kingdom (33), Russia (29) and Germany (22). Aero India has established itself on the international air shows firmament for its high quality participation.

In line with the present-day battle scenario where there is a coordinated effort on the part of all the three wings of the armed forces, Aero India 2013 attracted few naval companies which saw possible linkages.

The ninth edition of the air show, which was bereft of any fighter aircraft competition, however, saw helicopter companies such as AgustaWestland, Eurocopter, Sikorsky and Russian Helicopters showcasing their products, considering that there are four major naval contests happening.

Naval Competitions

The Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard put together have four major requirements for helicopters. There is competition for the multi-role helicopter (MRH) requirement of 16-18 helicopters, with main contenders being NH Industries NH90 and Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk. The competition is worth $1 billion. So also the Indian Navy is expected to go for another RFP in the latter part of the year for 75 to 120 helicopter naval multi-role helicopter requirement.

Lockheed Martin’s Vice President for Business Development for ship and aviation systems, George Barton said the MH-60R would be offered to the Indian Navy along with the Sierra variant. “The Indian Navy will have its own requirement, but we feel that the Romeo and Sierra combination will meet all of these,” Barton said.

Similarly, Eurocopter is offering its EC-725. The outgoing President and CEO of Eurocopters, Lutz Bertling, said that the military competitions gave greater importance to the Indian market. Eurocopter’s AS565 MBe Panther naval helicopter was on static display, equipped with its full armament complement.

The AS565 MBe Panther is proposed for both the Indian Navy’s planned acquisition of utility helicopters and the Indian Coast Guard’s anticipated purchase of shipbased light-/medium-helicopters. It is a militarised member of Eurocopter’s popular Dauphin family, and has demonstrated its abilities in India, as one of this helicopter type’s largest civilian operators is the country’s Pawan Hans Helicopters, with a significant AS365 N3 Dauphin fleet.

ShinMaywa’s Maiden Appearance

ShinMaywa made its maiden appearance at Aero India 2013 and was enthused about the platform and the Indian market. ShinMaywa was the only Japanese aerospace company at the show and attracted eyeballs as it showcased the US 2i amphibian and the world-class ‘Paxway’ passenger boarding bridges.

Many important dignitaries including Lt General Kunisuke Nakashima, Vice Chief of Staff, Japan Air Self Defence Force; Dr Satish B. Agnihotri, DG (Acquisition); Preeti Sudan, JS and AM (MS) of MoD; Air Marshall M. Matheshwaran, Deputy Chief (Perspective Planning and Force Development) of Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff, Vice Admiral Pradip K. Chatterjee, Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Paras Nath, Controller of Logistics, Rear Admiral B.S. Parhar, Flag Officer Naval Aviation and his staff from Indian Navy, AOC-in-C Maintenance Command of IAF visited the stall.

ShinMaywa said that the show provided a platform for important business meetings with prospective partners from the Indian armed forces and the Indian Coast Guard.

Mazagon Dock at the Show

India’s premier shipyard constructing warships as well as offshore platforms— Mazagon Dock—had a strong presence at the show. The company showcased its activities which include ship-building, ship repairs and fabrication of offshore structures with facilities situated at Mumbai and Nhava. MDL has the capability to build warships, submarines, merchant ships up to 30,000 DWT and fabrication of well head platforms, process and production platforms and jack up rigs. For outfitting work, the company has a large number of workshops with sophisticated equipment and machines, specific to hull fabrication and ship construction work.

Raytheon Displays Fish Hawk

Raytheon’s Fish Hawk, a smart wing kit for the MK54 Lightweight Torpedo, enables warfighters to launch torpedoes at multiple targets from high altitude at stand-off range. The Indian Navy’s new P8-I Poseidon multi-mission aircraft deploys the MK54.

Elbit’s Maritime Patrol Mission Suite

Elbit from Israel displayed the maritime patrol mission suite for its Hermes 900 unmanned aerial vehicle. Hermes can deploy life rafts and is equipped with a maritime patrol radar suite featuring the Selex Galileo Gabianno T200 X-band synthetic aperture radar.

The set-up takes advantage of the Hermes 900’s 350 kg payload. Payloads include an automatic identification system (AIS), an electro-optical multi-sensor payload and electronic surveillance systems, as well as the SAR. Elbit said in a release that it also has “redundant line-of-sight and satellite communications (SATCOM) links and radio relay, enabling the operator to ‘talk through’ to vessels at sea”.