Naval util­ity he­li­copter ten­der scrapped, made big­ger


Fol­low­ing the re­cent can­cel­la­tion of the 197 re­con­nais­sance and surveil­lance he­li­copter (RSH) com­pe­ti­tion, the Min­istry of De­fence (MoD) has fol­lowed up by can­celling the 56 naval util­ity he­li­copter (NUH) ten­der as well, and re­float­ing it as a sim­i­lar ‘Buy & Make (In­dian)’ com­pe­ti­tion for 100 he­li­copters. The ear­lier ten­der saw Air­bus He­li­copters’ AS 565 MB Pan­ther (the mil­i­tarised navalised Dauphin) and the Agusta-West­land AW109 Koala LUH in the fray, though the contest had not pro­gressed beyond the pre­lim­i­nary phase. The In­dian Navy has stip­u­lated in the fresh re­quest for in­for­ma­tion (RFI) that it needs 100 he­li­copters to sport full SAR and util­ity ca­pa­bil­i­ties, HADR (high avail­abil­ity dis­as­ter re­cover) ca­pa­bil­ity, anti-piracy and anti-ter­ror­ism and limited mar­itime surveil­lance and tar­get­ing ca­pa­bil­ity.

Also, the he­li­copter should be twin-en­gine plat­form, with a wheeled land­ing gear and blade fold ca­pa­bil­ity. The he­li­copter should be ca­pa­ble of op­er­at­ing from ship and shore. For its re­quired mar­itime surveil­lance and tar­get­ing ca­pa­bil­ity, the navy has stip­u­lated that weapons to meet those roles will likely need to be fit­table. The ‘Buy & Make (In­dian)’ decision, which the Naren­dra Modi Gov­ern­ment has shown its pref­er­ence for, man­dates pur­chase from an In­dian ven­dor (in­clud­ing an In­dian company form­ing joint ven­ture/ es­tab­lish­ing pro­duc­tion ar­range­ment with OEM), fol­lowed by li­censed pro­duc­tion and in­dige­nous man­u­fac­ture in the coun­try. The cat­e­gory makes com­pul­sory min­i­mum 50 per cent in­dige­nous con­tent on cost ba­sis, which im­plies that in­dige­nous con­tent in the to­tal of (i) ba­sic cost of equip­ment; (ii) cost of man­u­fac­tur­ers’ rec­om­mended list of spares; and (iii) cost of spe­cial main­te­nance tools and spe­cial test equip­ment, must be at least 50 per cent of the to­tal con­tract value. Agusta-West­land and Air­bus He­li­copters, in ad­di­tion to other firms, may par­tic­i­pate.

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