RUSSIAN OFFER CAN DESTROY AMERCIAN CHANCES FOR INDIAN HELICOPTER ORDER
By Bulbul Singh
25 Aug 11. In a bid to edge out American and European competitors in helicopter contracts for the Indian defence forces, the Russians have formally offered India production license and help to set up in-country facilities, including those in the private sector. Russia is in the running for three different helicopter tenders worth over $4 billion.
“The offer is very lucrative,” said a senior Indian defence ministry official, as, “It even allows re-export of helicopters to other countries. Besides, demand for helicopters for the Indian Navy, Air Force and Army can be met to a great extent from these production facilities.”
The Russian offer, which has been formally given to the Indian defence ministry comes ahead of the final decision on three helicopter programmes for the Indian Army and Air Force.
In the light utility helicopter segment where the Indian Army wants 197 helicopters, Russia’s Kamov is pitched against the AS-550 from Eurocopter, as well as Augusta Westland.
In another tender, for 22 assault helicopters valued at $1.4 billion the Russian-made Mi-28NE is bidding against the American AH-64D Apache
Longbow Block III. The Russians are also in competition against the CH 47E Chinook from the Americans in the Heavy Lift helicopters tender worth around $700 million. The fate of the tenders is likely to be decided in the next six-to-eight months. The Americans front runners in the Heavy Lift and attack helicopters.
State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) could be the major looser if the Russian offer is accepted as the chances of their indigenous helicopters gaining future orders could weaken as Indian Army and Air Force do not favour HAL products.
Sources in the Indian Army said, “The decision to buy American Attack Helicopters under FMS has already been decided and the Russian offer is an attempt to stop any such decision.
The Indian Air Force is looking for day/night capable, all weather, Attack Helicopters capable of operations in both desert and mountainous terrain environments. As such, the helicopters would be fully tropicalized.
The Indian Air Force want an Attack Helicopter which will have a basic empty weight of 2500 kilograms or higher and must have two engines. Besides, the Helicopters would be highly agile, have advanced anti-amour capability and should be able to operate in temperatures ranging from -40 degrees Celsius to +55 degrees Celsius and humidity up to 95 per cent.
The requirements for the Attack Helicopters include provision of a turret gun of 20mm or higher, capability to fire rockets of 70mm or higher with the rockets having a range of at least 1.2 kilometres. The Attack Helicopter should also be able to employ air-to-ground missiles which have fire-and-forget capability with a range of at least seven kilometres and fire-and-forget air-to-air missiles.
The Indian Air Force is looking for Attack Helicopters so they can survive on the modern battlefield and carry state-of-the-art defensive Electronic Warfare suites. As such, the Radar Warning Receiver will provide capability for intercepting, identifying and prioritizing multiple airborne and ground-based RF emitters.
The Russian offer can also lessen chances of HAL which is already developing prototypes for sale to the Indian defence forces in the Light Utility Helicopter [LUH] segment.
Kamov’s Ka-226T is competing there against the AS-550 from Eurocopter, as well as the A-109 and A-119 from Augusta Westland, the trials have been completed. Currently the procurement program is at evaluation stage and the winners are expected to be selected by early 2012.
HAL plans to roll out three LUH prototypes by the end of 2012. HAL has a confirmed order of 187 LUH for Indian Air Force and Army. The company is currently evaluating the procurement of engines from Turmecca of France, Honeywell of