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November 26, 2011

Multi Role Helicopters for the Indian Navy

(Defense Now) : The Indian Navy has completed the field evaluation trails of the two participating helicopters in the USD one billion deal for procuring 16 multirole helicopters for augmenting its rotary wing anti-submarine warfare fleet.

Trials of the American Sikorsky S-70B and European NH-90 have been completed and the report is being studied by the Navy at the moment, Defence Ministry sources said to Defencenow.com here.

The procurement of 16 choppers is part of navy’s plans to have a fleet of around 60 choppers and as per the RFP issued by navy in 2008, it can go ahead with a repeat order of 44 more such platforms in future.

The MRH's primary role would be anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare, while its secondary role would include search and rescue, cargo carrying and casualty evacuation.

The Navy urgently needs the MRH to replace its aging Sea King fleet inducted in 1970. It had 40-odd Sea King choppers in its air wing, but the numbers have come down to about 30 helicopters due to mishaps.

American Lockheed martin had also offered its choppers for the tender but it was rejected by the Indian Government as it did not want to go for procurement through the Foreign Military Sales route proposed by the US Navy.

The helicopter on offer was the MH 60 Romeo, which is built on Sikorsky’s Black hawk platform.

However, it seems the Government wants to allow the American contender to take part in the latest Indian naval helicopter programme and has invited Lockheed for consultation son the programme.

The Navy had recently issued an RFI in June for procuring new MRHs but the RFP is likely to be issued only after the present programme is completed.

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