Aiming at more strategic tie-ups between OEMs and Indian manufacturers under its Make in India mantra, India’s Ministry of Defence is in the process of identifying a helicopter manufacturer to feed its voracious appetite for helicopters.
The MoD has a need for some 1000 light utility helicopters (LUH) required by the military and parapublic forces within the next 15-20 years.
Airbus Helicopters, AgustaWestland and Sikorsky are likely contenders for a possible tie-up.
An MoD official revealed to Shephard that Sikorsky was in discussion with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for a potential joint venture, although for this to work HAL would ‘need to buckle up’.
Sikorsky is understood to be in discussion for the manufacture of components for the S-97 Raider, as it explores possible civil applications for the coaxial compound, such as transporting personnel between offshore oil platforms and the cleaning of transmission lines, which are forecast to hold big potential in India in the near future.
While it is not clear yet what model Sikorsky would offer to the MoD, it is unlikely to be the S-97 given the lack of US military interest in the aircraft. More than likely it would instead be the S-70i, the export version of the multi-mission Black Hawk.
A longer term goal is understood to a joint venture for S-97 on similar lines as the current Sikorsky-Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) joint venture in Hyderabad. The company has a capacity to produce 48 S-92cabins a year, with 110 already delivered.
HAL already has an order for 187 of the 3.1-tonne single engine LUH, the maiden test of which is scheduled for December.
The LUH Request for Proposal has a long history of repeated bids that have been a major pain point forAirbus Helicopters. The OEM had even conducted a feasibility study ......More on RotorHub subscription