THE INDIAN Navy has selected the Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk as its new Multi-Role Helicopter (MRH) to replace the elderly Sea King fleet. The Indian Ministry of Defence opened Sikorsky’s commercial bid on December 4. A rival bid from NHIndustries, which offered the NH90 NFH, will not be considered due to the corruption allegations surrounding the now cancelled Indian Air Force VVIP AW101 order from AgustaWestland, which has a stake in NHI.
Sikorsky will now negotiate a contract for the sale of 16 S-70Bs to the Indian Navy, with options on eight additional helicopters. A comprehensive logistics support and training programme will also be included in the deal.
“India’s selection of the S-70B helicopter represents a major strategic win for Sikorsky in an important growth market and positions us well for future opportunities,” said Mick Maurer, President of Sikorsky Aircraft. “We look forward to a long-term collaboration with the Indian Government and local industry as we work to bring the Indian Navy the highly advanced multi-role S-70B aircraft.”
Final approval to go ahead with the programme was given at a Defence Acquisition Council meeting on August 29, 2014, after many years of delays. The MRH programme had been ongoing for the last eight years, two previous attempts to select a type for the requirement having both been abandoned. The latest tenders had been submitted over two years ago, but had remained unopened, until now. Alan Warnes