Buoy­ant he­li­copter mar­ket in In­dia


Araft of he­li­copter mak­ers such as Boe­ing, Siko­rsky Air­craft Corp, Bell He­li­copter, Euro­copter and Agus­taWest­land are ag­gres­sively pur­su­ing the In­dian mar­ket, both civil and mil­i­tary. The fact that the In­dian armed forces are up­grad­ing their age­ing fleet and also the huge ramp-up that is expected to hap­pen in the civil­ian seg­ment, au­gurs well for the he­li­copter in­dus­try.

In fact, the civil he­li­copter mar­ket in In­dia has come alive thanks to the armed forces. The off­set obli­ga­tions are set to spur fur­ther deals which will have a bear­ing on both mil­i­tary and civil seg­ments. The mil­i­tary sec­tor con­tin­ues to rep­re­sent the big­gest busi­ness op­por­tu­nity even while the other gov­ern­ment sec­tor, i.e. Home­land Se­cu­rity, is expected to boost the re­quire­ment of he­li­copters. The In­dian he­li­copter mar­ket will be a favourite hunt­ing ground for all global aero­space ma­jors man­u­fac­tur­ing ro­tary­wing ma­chines.

In SP’s Ex­clu­sives, we have a cou­ple of sto­ries re­lated to the he­li­copter seg­ment start­ing with the re­port on the ar­rival next month of the first of the 12 Agus­taWest­land AW101 he­li­copters for VVIP trans­port ac­quired for the Air HQ Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Squadron. The new he­li­copters will re­place the old Mi-8/17s, cur­rently used as ex­ec­u­tive trans­port for the Pres­i­dent, Prime Min­is­ter, se­nior func­tionar­ies of the gov­ern­ment and vis­it­ing dig­ni­taries.

Along­side, we have a re­port on how the re­cently floated Naval Util­ity He­li­copter pro­gramme is likely to be fought closely with as many as five con­tenders. In­deed, the go­ing is good for the he­li­copter in­dus­try and there is an­tic­i­pa­tion that the gov­ern­ment would take pos­i­tive steps on eas­ing re­stric­tions on pro­cure­ment of he­li­copters specif­i­cally for the civil­ian seg­ment.

Away from he­li­copters, the In­dian Air Force (IAF) got its first of three mod­i­fied Em­braer EMB 145 Air­borne Early Warn­ing and Con­trol Sys­tem air­craft last week. The air­craft flew in with mis­sion sys­tem ex­ter­nal com­po­nents de­vel­oped by DRDO in­clud­ing the plat­form’s pri­mary sen­sor, an ac­tive elec­tron­i­cally scanned ar­ray (AESA) an­tenna with pas­sive elec­tron­ics fit­ted on the air­craft. This plat­form will be a true force mul­ti­plier and will add a new ca­pa­bil­ity to the IAF.

In his frank and forth­right col­umn, Air Mar­shal (Retd) B.K. Pandey has talked about the de­fence pro­cure­ment pro­ce­dures. As brought out by him that while the DPP may have been crafted with the noble and laud­able ob­jec­tive of elim­i­nat­ing all pos­si­bil­ity of ma­nip­u­la­tion or mis­de­meanour in the ac­qui­si­tion of de­fence hard­ware, there is an im­per­a­tive need to bal­ance its rigid frame­work with the re­quired de­gree of flex­i­bil­ity to ob­vi­ate un­due de­lay in the in­ter­est of na­tional se­cu­rity. In­deed, there is ur­gent and un­ques­tion­able need to cut de­lay in the fi­nal­i­sa­tion of deals for weapon sys­tems such as that of Rafale MMRCA which is so crit­i­cal to na­tional se­cu­rity.

Lt Gen­eral (Retd) P.C. Ka­toch has given his views on the Naresh Chan­dra Com­mit­tee’s rec­om­men­da­tion for set­ting up a sep­a­rate Spe­cial Forces Com­mand.

Talk­ing about na­tional se­cu­rity, there is a re­port from the gov­ern­ment that there has been a mar­ginal de­cline in in­ci­dents of dam­age to eco­nomic in­fra­struc­ture by left-wing ex­trem­ism in the coun­try dur­ing the last three years. Such in­ci­dents have come down in the cur­rent year (up to July 31) also, com­pared to the cor­re­spond­ing pe­riod of 2011. That is good, but more needs to be done on the ground, de­vel­op­ment-wise and se­cu­rity-wise, to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion.

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