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.