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India issues RFIs for 234 naval helicopters
Airbus would probably bid for NUH with the Panther MBe. © Airbus Helicopters

India issues RFIs for 234 naval helicopters

The Requests for Information cover the acquisition of 123 Naval MultiRole Helicopters (NMRH) and 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH).

India’s Ministry of Defence has issued Requests for Information (RFIs) regarding the acquisition of 123 Naval MultiRole Helicopters (NMRH) and 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH) and associated equipment.

The RFIs have reportedly been sent to Airbus Helicopters, Russian Helicopters, Bell Helicopter and Lockheed Martin (Sikorsky). Responses are to be received by 6th October.

This is not the first move to upgrade the Indian Navy’s helicopter fleet, but the number of aircraft involved is significantly larger. An earlier RFI for the NUH had mentioned only 56 machines. A separate programme, dubbed simply Multi-Role Helicopter (MRH), had led to the short-listing of the NH90 and Sikorsky S-70B, with a requirement for 16 machines, but no orders materialised.

Meanwhile, HAL has unveiled its own Indian Multi Role Helicopter (IMRH), shown in mockup form at Aero India 2017.

Under the new RFIs, each OEM would be obliged to work with an Indian strategic partner who would manufacture the helicopters. The RFI specifies “comprehensive” transfer of design and manufacturing technology, capable of being used in future indigenous programmes. Indigenous content must be at least 40% on cost basis.

Designated missions for the 5t NUH include the following (day and night): Search and Rescue, Medical Evacuation, Communication Duties, Anti-Piracy and Anti-terrorism, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, Surveillance and Targeting.

The 12.5t (max) NMRH would be procured in two variants — multi-role and Special Ops. Intended missions for the multi-role variant include Anti Submarine Warfare, Anti Surface Warfare (ASuW), Electronic Intelligence (ELINT), Search and Rescue, External Cargo Carrying (min 2,500kg) and Limited Casualty Evacuation.

Missions for the Special Ops variant include Special Ops and Commando Role, Troop Transport, Maritime Interdiction including Anti-Piracy Operations, Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), External Cargo Carriage (min 2500 kg), Limited Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC), Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), Logistics and Communication duties.

The RFIs specify the "likely timeline" for issue of the RFPs as second quarter of 2018 (NUH) and mid-2018 (NMRH).

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