Navy MRH programme in 27-month limbo, and counting
NH Industries and Sikorsky have extended the validity of their commercial bids in the Indian Navy’s multi-role helicopter (MRH) competition till March 2014 at the request of the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The Sikorsky S-70B Sea Hawk faces off against the NH Industries NH90. The competition has been floating in uncertainty for over two years now (27 months to be precise) since the field evaluation trials ended in late 2011. A senior executive at Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter), which owns a controlling stake at NH Industries, told SP’s, “We are waiting for the commercial bids to be opened. The only activity we have seen for the last two years is repeated requests to extend the validity of our commercial bids. We await clarity and guidance on forward movement in the deal.” A senior executive at Sikorsky said, “It is understandable that the time is not optimal for a decision, but it is unclear why the due process should not continue. The bids could be opened and an evaluation can begin. We have received no information on what the hold-up is about.” The Indian Navy waits anxiously on the sidelines, as it desperately needs the new generation multi-role helicopters for operations at sea. MoD sources indicate that bids may only be opened in the new financial year, which means, another request for bid validity to be extended till December 31, 2014, is likely.