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India begins search for 234 new naval helicopters
September 20, 2017
Royal Australian Navy S-70B Seahawk. Photo source: Royal Australian Navy

India begins search for 234 new naval helicopters

The Government of India has begun the process of procuring 234 new naval helicopters, of which 123 will be anti-submarine warfare (ASW)-capable multi-role helicopters and 111 twin-engine utility helicopters.

The Times of India reports that the program, which will be implemented under the “Strategic Partnership” policy of India’s Ministry of Defence, will be worth more than $5 billion U.S.

Under the Strategic Partnership directive, the winning original equipment manufacturer (OEM) will deliver the helicopters in collaboration with a defence industry partner from India’s private sector. New Delhi’s main objective is to see upwards of 70% of the sourcing be done domestically.

According to the Times of India, OEMs are expected to submit responses to New Delhi’s call by October, at which point OEMs will receive request for proposals (RFP) from India outlining specific technical as well as commercial requirements surrounding each (or in some cases both) helicopter programs.

The aim of both helicopter programs is to fully recapitalize the Indian Navy’s rotary fleet, which is not only aging, but is also quantitatively insufficient to cover the Navy’s burgeoning surface combatant fleet of new corvettes, frigates, destroyers, amphibious vessels and – in time – aircraft carriers.

Notes & Comments:

While the Strategic Partnership policy was approved in May, it may require additional time for Indian government policymakers and industry officials to properly define and implement. The model being proposed carries risks of inefficiencies and limited cost-savings for the exchequer.

For example, companies that win a bid in one area (e.g. vehicles) will be precluded from competing in bids in other fields (e.g. aircaft), even though that specific firm may be the most efficient competitor for both programs. Restrictions to foreign investment in joint-ventures (49%) will push most of the risk (51%) to Indian companies. In the case of a partnership not succeeding, the OEM will still benefit from the sale of technology, while the Indian partner will be left with incurring most of the losses.

However, the Indian government placed these rules to ensure that lucrative opportunities are not limited to India’s one or two private sector players as well as to support the domestic economy.

Through its partnership with Boeing and Lockheed Martin (via prior offset agreements), Tata Advanced Systems is a leading private-sector aviation vendor. However, its sister subsidiary in vehicles could become a military vehicle manufacturer. Keeping a vendor to a single field is meant to prevent monopolies, though it could be inefficient as well if a lesser quality manufacturer is relied upon for another program.

In any case, Tata Advanced Systems will likely partner with Lockheed Martin, which owns Sikorsky. Sikorsky’s Seahawk/Black Hawk range would be natural fit for the Indian Navy’s ASW-capable multi-role helicopter requirement. Tata Advanced Systems is also manufacturing sub-assemblies for the Sikorsky S-92, a new ASW-capable variant of that could be a possible avenue. The main competitors will likely be Airbus Helicopters and – if un-blacklisted by the Ministry of Defence – Leonardo. The light utility helicopter program will see a larger group of competitors with Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky, Airbus Helicopters, Bell Helicopter and – if un-blacklisted – Leonardo.

  • Lasit

    good news for India, but knowing the past history of procurement process, we are probably looking at another long drawn process of multiple stages/cancellations or what else.. Just hope that the possibility of conflict with Chinese may give our leaders some for reason to speed up the process.

    • Jack More

      Our past was black(congress),Now there is a stable govt in center and we can see how is it working.

      • Lasit

        agree with you. changes are happening for good. Other than Tata, no other private players have a current manufacturing setup or know how to make these helis. but lets see how fast we can move now, given that everybody by now understood that China is the only tangible real threat to us, and they are expanding like anything

        • Steve

          Don’t forget Pakistan’s 3 upgraded Agosta 90B and 8 S20. That is 11 quiet AIP submarines for the near future, and maybe a nuclear submarine(s) later if all the plans come to fruition in the 10-15 year time frame. The only Indian ship sunk by submarine was the Kukri so there is history too. With the current political climate we will almost certainly induct more Chinese technology. Chinese submarines don’t really frequent IOR but that’s almost certain to change with Gwader, plus the fact that they are adding vessels faster than anyone in history. The String of Pearls is not imaginary. It is probably good for India to get more ASW helicopters. I think $5 billion is a conservative estimate once inducted. Bilal, like your comment policy to keep it courteous 😂. We have taken note!

          • Lasit

            123 ASW helis for 11 subs is more than a overkill, unless India wants to swarm the Pak Navy. Plus we have the PI8 to say hello to every PLAN sub. These are going to be used for on deck ops from surface fleet, as we are building the third biggest navy in the world 😁😁.

            The biggest challenge for any PLAN sub will be to avoid detection at strait of malacca. Once detected, it’s a case of tagging it during its stay.

          • Steve
          • Lasit

            interesting but slightly dated information. As per the tonnage Indian navy is very close to the British or may have gone past them by end of 2016 because of new inductions. the balance will change briefly after induction of HMS QE, but India will regain after INS Vikrant.

            on account of fighting ships, IN is already much bigger.
            http://www.globalfirepower.com/countries-comparison-detail.asp?form=form&country1=india&country2=united-kingdom&Submit=COMPARE

            By 2020, we should be able to go pass the Japanese Self JMSDF and Russians by 2030.. i am talking about that horizon till 2030

          • Steve

            Good to have aspirations. It’s important to be open about current size or numbers while discussing though as it may be misleading for some people.

          • Lasit

            Ok . Take the hard number, IN is #5 in tonnage as of 2017. Addition 41 under construction (hull launched and under construction) ships will make IN #4 in 2022..

          • Steve

            Future plans are great and like I said good luck. People (Western sources not ours) were also saying Pakistan is going to have the 3rd largest number of nuclear weapons in 20 years, but for us that is nothing to boast about. All we want is to guarantee nobody attacks us ever again, without suffering unacceptable damage to themselves. To be superficial “mailed fist” I think it’s called lol.

          • FAUJI JAT

            It was Pakistan who attacked India in all wars.

          • Steve

            So we can relax in the knowledge that any future war started will not be by India. What’s all this Cold Start stuff then? It’s to assuage Indian public inflamed by the media and not real?

          • Headstrong

            Nah. Just something to ensure no 26/11 type of misadventure is tried again. Drop the CSD word once in a while and watch the frothing at the mouths 😄

          • Steve

            It’s NON STATE ACTORS mate. Read that again as I’ve put it in bold text to make it sink in. You think we have control? We control them as much as you control SIMI or the RSS guys who blew up Samjhauta express and killed scores of innocent Pakistanis. We don’t froth mate just keep our (nuclear) powder dry. This is going sideways lol! Bilal I’ll stop.

          • Headstrong

            More control than you people seem to let on. No more 26/11s 🙂
            Pretty effective, eh? 🙂

          • Steve

            Interesting article about subsurface issues.
            http://nationalinterest.org/feature/the-indian-navy-has-big-problem-the-subsurface-dilemma-11598

            Chinese submarine pens are certain to appear sooner or later in the IOR to permanently base subsurface fleet, so the Malacca choke-point may become irrelevant soon.

          • FAUJI JAT

            Well don’t forget we have decimate your navy with OSA class missile boats in 1971.

          • Steve

            Now now, no need to get stressed out and defensive. There was damage on both sides. My comment was about your colleague saying Pakistan navy is no threat.

          • amar

            Hi @disqus_1y2MoYiK2O:disqus
            In mid-long term future the only meaningful threat that PN can muster against IN is their sub-surface fleet. The PN philosophy is similar to soviets when they faced Americans with a very large and potent surface fleet comprising of Nuclear carriers, big destroyers and various corvettes. The 11 submarines that will come online by 2028(fully inducted into the PN) will indeed pose some degree of challenge to IN. However what we are not taking into account is the fact that IN backed by a strong fiscal muscle is being upgraded much more rapidly than PN, infact this year’s IN’s defence budget share actually surpassed that of Pakistan’s entire defence budget! So, by 2028, IN will have at least 12 brand new conventional subs(6 scorphenes+6 P-75i) plus 9 modernized kilos plus at least 4-5 nuclear subs. Which means IN will field at least 25 subs(conventional and nuclear combined) against a fleet of 11 subs! Here we are not taking into account the recent nod given to the construction of 6 SSNs. So if we take that into account as well, the gap will get even more glaring. Also, India is miles ahead of PN in anti-sub warfare. IN not only possess P-8i but various anti-sub corvettes for instance the kamorta class(which btw is as heavy as destroyers in PN!).
            In my honest opinion, PN lacks the strategic culture that IN has. Planners in New Delhi have realized the importance of a blue water navy and thats the reason why they are generously helping IN. Also IN is actively involved in various research efforts much more than either IA or IAF. For instance it was traditionally IN that backed LCA and even pushed for shore based test facility which mimics a ramp based ski jump carrier. IN was also actively involved in the design of PWR reactor for Arihant, the prototype of which achieved criticality at kalpakkam in mid 2000s.

            PS- Also note, most of the programs of IN are transparent in fact now, a great deal can be found online regarding nuclear submarines and reactors of IN.

          • Jack More

            Don’t bother to reply him.He has a deep habit to prove Pakistan/china’s superiority over India’s poorness. According to him,India can’t even manufacture a needle.All defence equipment including Arihant,Artra,Akash,Nag,Tejas are pure foreign products so you will waste a lot of time replying him and you know he can’t get over it.

          • Steve

            Now that is personal and nothing to do with the topic mate. China is much bigger and stronger than India militarily and economically, and that is just a fact. Please don’t ask for ‘evidence’ now. Lol

          • Jack More

            As i told him LOL.

          • Steve

            We have opted for a strong subsurface fleet and will continue on that path with hopefully have nuclear subs at some stage, for strategic deterrence. Surface combatants are also going to be added. Historically battles have not always been won by the side that had more equipment, though nobody thinks there is going to be a war any time soon. Nuclear weapons have made subcontinental war obsolete, apart from minor mischief on the LOC.

          • Omar Dar

            All of this is very good on paper but what is also well known is the utter incompetence of the Indians. The IAF has been flying IL-78 tankers which were not airworthy, the LCA Tejas has been mismanaged to the extent that India now has to order a second fighter jet from abroad to take its place, the arjun mbt is immobile, the INSAS rifle explodes in the user’s face and the Kilo class patrols with a single broken periscope. Even the pilot training program is so behind schedule that the pilot-cockpit ratio of the IAF is at a critical level, the army soldiers are demoralized and IN sailors have lost more ships in accidents than any other navy in the world. So the gap is superficial and Pakistan knows it.

          • Headstrong

            Your comment represents the best of cherry picking.
            Regardless, the ‘utterly incompetent’ Indians have still managed better than our regional wannabes. What does that say about their competence?

          • Steve

            An interesting historical fact relevant to numbers. In 1556 in the second battle of Panipat, the forces of the Mughals, Akbar and Bairam Khan with 10,000 cavalry faced Hemu with 30,000 cavalry and 500 war elephants. Now by standard logic Akbar should have been destroyed but we all know what happened. Not implying anything, just saying that history is full of such examples.

          • Headstrong

            Of course you’re not ‘implying’ anything 🙂
            Akbar – Indian. Hemu – Indian. What does it have to do with Pakistan?
            And why go back to 16th century? 20th century history not relevant enough for you? Surely that is more relevant for you people?
            Moreover, who brought in numbers? We’re talking of competence here. Bit of a stretch to comprehend, yes. But still…

          • Steve

            Hahahaha there used to be a comedy programme here with an Indian guy who says the whole world is Indian and every invention is Indian. Humans originated in india and India is the centre of the world. You remind me of him lol. BTW I understand why people like you lay claim to the Mughals. The fact is Akbar – Muslim, Hemu – Hindu. Your compatriot said and we agree that India is a recent invention by the British. Here’s an intellectual knot for you. Are the Indus Valley and Harappa civilisations “Indian”? Be careful!

          • Headstrong

            Sidetracking again? 😄 Typical
            Read some history books. World history, not the type taught to you at your schools. You’ll find your answer.
            Akbar – Indian (Muslim)
            Hemu – Indian (Hindu)
            You see, Pakistan wasn’t around then. Don’t take my word for it. Read history. 😄

          • Steve

            You are the people who are busy changing history, because you don’t want to accept you were ruled by Muslims for 1000 years, by calling all your thousands of foreign rulers ‘Indian’, except the British and you put out a weird logic that because individual persons did not stay there were not Indians. I notice you did not answer my other questions, because you have no answer and are peddling falsehoods. After sparring with me for a few months you are well aware of our grasp of history. Don’t believe all the flawed narrative that you people peddle around the internet about Pakistan and save yourself surprises in the future. It is actually good for us if you underestimate us!

          • Headstrong

            On the contrary, ‘Steve’, we fully accept that Muslims ruled India. It’s in our history, ‘Steve’, which may be difficult for you to digest, given that your own history is pretty slim (how much – 70 years?). Indus Valley? Yup, Indian. Mughals? Indian too. Which should be obvious to even children. Even they know there was no Pakistan around then 😄
            Don’t take my word for it. Read history. 😄
            I’ll leave it to the judgement of readers here to figure out who’s answering questions and who’s sidetracking. (Hint – it’s not me who went back to the 16th century 😄)

          • Steve

            Agree that there are training, competence, and planning issues in India as you detailed. However we need to work seriously on our navy as SLOC protection and influence in the IOR is something we cannot put on hold indefinitely, while we build large land forces. High quality inductions will enable us to do more with less, so quality will be crucial. Is also means not buying tiny ships with short range missiles.

          • amar

            Yeah of course the gap is superficial. I only wish Pakistan was as transparent as India’s.

          • amar
          • Steve

            Nice pics, what do they show?

          • amar

            They show something which Pakistanis like yourself have choosen to “ignore”. You sure can call India whatever you feel like, however deep down inside you know fully well, where both countries stand vis a vis each other. As for the pics, I’m sure you’re intelligent enough to understand what they are.

          • Steve

            A rather jingoistic reply typical of the current lot of Indians. What is the submarine shown and is it fully operational? Is it the one that had a fire and being towed back for repairs?

          • amar

            Yeah yeah as you understand!

          • Lasit

            Strait of Malacca will always be a factor as long as it is there, or there is some new technology through which Chinese can teleport their subs directly into IOR.

            regarding the Gwadar as a Chinese Naval base, well that is more of a Pakistani fantasy rather than chinese desire. with that logic, IN also have access to all the US naval bases through the LEMOA including in Taiwan 🙂

            “the fact that they are adding vessels faster than anyone in history” – again a mere superficial and bravado. you simple need to look at US Naval build up during WW2.

          • Steve

            That does not qualify as it was:
            1. War time
            2. Ships were a lot less sophisticated
            3. Pacific fleet was decimated in Pearl Harbour and America had to rebuild to repamce losses.
            But you can be happy with that if you wish. Happy to qualify my remarks with ‘peacetime’ added but again that is semantics and nitpicking which you excel in.

          • Steve

            Have Americans offered you use of their bases? I don’t remember reading that anywhere. If you permanently base subs in hidden pens in IOR they can’t be tracked from Malacca as you said in your original post. Subs can also enter the IOR the long way around from the East China Sea. You don’t have a SOSUS net in the IOR unless you ask America to provide you data which I don’t think they have. Simple logic mate.

          • Steve

            LSA (LEMOA) requires that assets are not permanent based and use facilities for logistics and supply only, not war time deployment for operations. Correct me if I am wrong but you guys made a big deal that America will not put boots on the ground and I suggest the converse also applies.

          • Lasit

            The agreement is for logistics and resupply, does not explicitly say wartime or peacetime. Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for Geospatial Intelligence are the two pending ones. This is all part of a large development to counter each other.

            Please understand that deployment of a chinese SSN in IOR unnerves lots of players. What China is trying to do is to complete against a gang of 11 of the 13 largest navies.

            Unless there is a permanent chinese naval base in IOR, Chinese navy will always be a wannabe power here.

          • Steve

            Chinese recently deployed to the North Sea which is very far away for exercises with the Russian navy. In the IOR the only country whose media makes a big deal about Chinese SSN is India. Most of the hot air from the US and other small regional navies is about the South China Sea because of political and island ownership plus oils drilling and fisheries resources reasons. The IOR is too big for any one power arrogating ownership. Of course there is some shadowing and a bit of rough and tumble near EEZ’s. Your statement that the whole world is ganging up against China if it deploys to IOR is wishful thinking in the extreme, and a purely Indian narrative. You guys need to stand on your own two feet and not cling to American coattails hoping they will help you. Why are you always looking for help and approval when you are a large country.

  • Jack More

    Tata will win for sure.It has both experience and technology but yeah Adani can come in between.

  • EBR

    wow, India has a lot of budget for defense. we envy india’s defense prioritization.

  • Lophs

    The tech transfer will be a problem b/c ASW tech is one of the most valuable and expensive tech in a country’s arsenal and they will rightfully demand a king’s ransom for it. However, the strategic situation may push the US in providing it after a hefty sum b/c it could drastically alter the naval balance in the Indian ocean decisively to the Indian Navy vs China so who knows. Both countries have much to offer to each other and a little give and take on both sides and it will probably happen.

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