Aerospace DailyNov 29, 2010
| By Neelam Mathews |
| Military maintenance, repair and overhaul provider Aeronautical Systems Inc. (ASI) says India provides vast opportunities in the long term for support solutions for U.S.-based platforms.|
ASI, based in Sterling, Va., provides mission-readiness services for military fleets with U.S. aircraft around the world, including Japan, Malaysia and Australia. Its specialized support for a core group of fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft encompasses component systems repair and overhaul, maintenance, aeronautical engineering, supply chain management, replacement parts and logistical support.
ASI currently supports the Indian navy with repair and overhaul of six UH-3H helicopters, including three flying in operations. Though the order is small, “we believe in planting seeds, watering them and see[ing] the plants grow,” says Felipe Rodriguez, ASI president.
The navy also has 14 older Westland Sea King 42s with an operational speed of 208 kph. (129 mph.) with a range of 664 nm.
ASI, which supports the U.S. Navy’s UH-3H Sea King helicopters, has been repairing and overhauling the UH-3H Sea Kings for one year now and supplying components.
With Afghanistan looking at buying 100 UH-3Hs, Rodriguez says India should also consider buying at least 25-50 more of the helicopters available at a low cost for search-and-rescue (SAR) operations that have increased in importance since the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks.
“The question is, is six enough? And do you need to spend for a product that has proved itself for SAR?” Rodriguez asks.
“SAR is a secondary role that basic helicopters can perform. The Advanced Light Helicopter will be used primarily for this role. . . . Also, buying second-hand depends on the vintage,” says an Indian navy official. “Sometimes, while old aircraft can be cheaper, their sustainability can be questioned over a period of time. Spares are always an issue. Also, one needs to consider their electronic fitness.”
Rodriguez says that despite challenges, the potential to do business in India is good. The company supplies components to F/A-18s and sees Indian-U.S. cooperation moving forward. “The relationship will soon be a two-way street,” he says.
UH-3H Sea King: Sikorsky