De­ci­sion on heavylift copter com­pe­ti­tion this month


The gov­ern­ment is expected to open bids to se­lect a new heavylift he­li­copter for the IAF — a choice be­tween the Boe­ing CH-47F Chi­nook and the Rus­sian Mi-26T2. The com­pe­ti­tion looks to con­tract for 15 he­li­copters to aug­ment and re­place the small num­ber of older gen­er­a­tion Mi-26 chop­pers that cur­rently op­er­ate from the IAF’s Chandi­garh air base. Tri­als on both plat­forms took place in In­dia and abroad in 2010-11. While Boe­ing has all but been of­fi­cially de­clared win­ner in a par­al­lel at­tack he­li­copter bid (it’s AH-64D Apache Block III has re­port- edly de­feated the Rus­sian Mi-28NE Night Hunter), the com­pe­ti­tion for the heavylift con­tract is still a hot one that could wing ei­ther way. The IAF has stressed this time on a high-al­ti­tude bad weather ca­pa­bil­ity, some­thing that both he­li­copters have been able to demon­strate. Sources in­di­cate that the Boe­ing team made full use of com­bat videos of the Chi­nook in the high­lands of Afghanistan to stress the plat­form’s high al­ti­tude prow­ess. The Mi-26T2 team has stressed plat­form com­mon­al­ity with what the IAF al­ready op­er­ates and as­sured a life­time sup­ply of spares and sup­port to as­suage any con­cerns on that front, in ad­di­tion to field­ing an up­graded he­li­copters with much more ad­vanced on­board and nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems than its ear­lier avatar in ser­vice with the IAF.

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