In­dian Navy Sea Kings up­grade process soon

SP's MAI - - SP’S EXCLUSIVES -

Long de­layed al­ready, the In­dian Navy is likely to be­gin the process to choose a pack­age to up­grade its fleet of age­ing West­land Sea King Mk.42B util­ity/ASW he­li­copters shortly. The up­grade in­volves spruc­ing up the Sea Kings with new avion­ics, elec­tronic war­fare suites, com­mu­ni­ca­tion kits and an all-new weapons suite, in­clud­ing anti-ship and anti-sub­ma­rine mu­ni­tions. The navy is cur­rently weigh­ing up­grade pack­ages of­fered by the OEM Agus­taWest­land (backed by a con­sor­tium of Euro­pean com­pa­nies for the elec­tronic suites), and Is­raeli pack­ages that in­cludes IAI-Lahav and El­bit.

The up­grade of roughly 20 Sea Kings comes at a time when the navy is near mak­ing a de­ci­sion on a con­tract that will be­gin the process of aug­ment­ing and pro­gres­sively re­plac­ing the old Sea Kings. The MRH com­pe­ti­tion for 16 multi-role he­li­copters, in which Siko­rsky’s S-70B Sea­hawk is un­der­stood to have the lead over NHIn­dus­tries’ NH90. The Navy will also soon be­gin the process on the fol­low-on N-MRH com­pe­ti­tion for at least 75 he­li­copters — a to­tal of 91 chop­pers to re­place In­dia’s dwin­dling num­ber of Sea Kings. The N-MRH pro­gramme will in­volve a com­pe­ti­tion be­tween the Lock­heed Martin MH-60R, NH90 and per­haps even the Euro­copter EC725 Su­per Cougar.

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