. plans to pursue multiple opportunities in the Indian defense market, and has responded to the Indian navy’s recently issued Request for Information (RFI) for a second batch of multi-role helicopters, a top company official says.
“We don’t know the numbers” of aircraft needed, says A.J.S. Walia, Sikorsky’s executive vice president for India and South Asia.
The company has the option of offering its S-70 Bravo or the“Romeo” helicopter, which it offers jointly with and the U.S. Navy.
The S-70B is currently vying for the first batch of 16 multi-role helos the Indian navy is purchasing at an estimated cost of $1 billion. “We will be having flight evaluation trials next month,” Walia says.
Sikorsky is offering the S-70B through the direct commercial sales route, while the MH-60R will be under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program.
The latest RFI calls for new naval multi-role helicopters with anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface and special operations capabilities to complement the navy’s existing fleet of Westland Sea King 42 ASW helicopters. The aircraft must weigh 9-12.5 tons, allowing them to be operated from Godavari frigates. They are expected to be in service for 30 years or more.
Sikorsky also is hoping to ride a wave of recent export successes to establish a firm industrial foothold in the hot Indian growth market.
“India is one of the fastest markets in the world for helicopters,” Walia says, estimating the country’s “market potential for the company at $21.4 billion in 2011-31. Out of this, $14.4 billion will be military-related and the rest for civil use.”
Sikorsky also is eyeing requirements for the Indian coast guard, for which the U.S. manufacturer is bidding a tailored S-76 C+. But a far larger program is a medium-helicopter requirement, which could lead to production of 300-500 rotorcraft. The company will likely tailor its offering around the C-148 Cyclone now completing development for Canada.
The company, which is an arm of, also is offering its S-76 for the coast guard’s demand for 16 shipborne helos, Walia says. Sikorsky also has responded to another Indian military RFI for 14 helos, he adds.
“We just signed an agreement to sell one S-76 C++ helicopter to the government of Maharashtra and are in dialogue with the police department of the state, and we have given them the option of [the] S-76B,” Walia says.
Apart from the coast guard, the company also is holding discussions with India’s Border Security Forces, National Disaster Management and National Security Guard on helicopter requirements. “If we win the Indian orders, then we will be bringing in the whole production line to India,” Walia says. “United Technologies will treat the Indian government and the Indian army as we treat the U.S. government and the U.S. Army.”