Ever since the Ministry of Defence (MoD) notified the Strategic Partnership (SP) model in May, 2017, the Indian Navy has been going full steam ahead with its modernisation programs, which were stuck for years due to the lack of a robust acquisition roadmap. Within days of floating a RFI for the crucial Program – 75I, the navy has now floated two separate RFIs for acquiring hundreds of Naval Multi Role Helicopters (NMRH) and Naval Utility Helicopters (LUH).
The RFIs, which have been forwarded to several global helicopter manufacturers, lists a need for 123 multi role helicopters and a further 111 utility helicopters. Combined together, the RFIs, which are worth well over $15 Billion, have heralded the beginning for one of India’s biggest defence acquisition deal.
The navy in the RFI has indicated that the helicopters on order should be powered by twin-engines and should have a wheeled landing gear besides blade fold capability. For maritime surveillance and targeting capability, the navy through the RFI has communicated to the OEMs that the helicopter should feature a modular design enabling it to be integrated with multiple weapons to meet the envisaged roles.
Once acquired the utility helicopters according to the navy will be deployed for Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC), communication duties and Search and Rescue (SAR), Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) and Surveillance and Targeting operations. The larger powerful multi-role helicopters will be deployed for tracking and further countering lurking sub-surface threats.
The Navy had been negotiating with the MoD for acquiring these choppers, which are world over are an integral part of frontline battle vessels, for at least a decade. These multi-role and utility helicopters are crucial for the navy’s deployed vessels to maintain a watch over the operational horizon. Equipped with advanced sensory suites and offensive vessels, these choppers will go a long way in boosting the Navy’s anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities.