New Delhi has issued a new request for information for 111 naval utility helicopters (NUH) and 123 naval multi-role helicopters (NMRH).

A request for proposal is likely to be issued in the second quarter of 2018 for both acquisitions.

India’s navy has been struggling to acquire modern helicopters to replace an almost obsolescent rotorcraft fleet since 2010, without any success.

As per the RFI, two variants of each type are to be procured. The NUH will be acquired in ‘Basic’ and ‘Fully Configured’ versions. The NMRH will have multi-role and special operations variants.

Both RFI’s specify detailed requirements for technology transfer. This will boost procurement costs by a substantial margin, as compared to an off-the shelf buy.

The RFIs call for the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to select an Indian strategic partner, who will undertake local production. The OEMs must ensure at least 40 percent indigenous content on the helicopters to be built in India.

For the NUH acquisition, two years after contract signature, 15 helicopters (Basic Configuration) are to be directly sourced from the manufacturer. Deliveries of these helicopters are to be completed by the fifth year of the contract.

Deliveries of the remaining 96 helicopters (Fully Configured) will commence from the fifth year and be completed by the 13th year.

The initial batch of 15 helicopters in ‘Basic Configuration’ are to be later upgraded to ‘Fully Configured’ standard. “Weapons are to be delivered in a phased manner proportionally along with the ‘Fully Configured’ version,” says the RFI.

The new helicopters are to be armed with air launched light weight torpedoes and depth charges.

The NUH will replace approximately 40 HAL built Chetak (SA316 Alouette III) helicopters that remain in navy service.

The NMRH RFI calls for acquisition of a twin-engine helicopter weighing less than 12.5 tonne, with at least two weapon stations for carriage long and short-range anti-ship missiles, light weight torpedoes and depth charges.

The NMRH will have two variants. One will perform anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), electronic intelligence (ELINT) and SAR roles. A ‘special operations’ version will primarily undertake special operations and commando roles, troop carriage, maritime interdiction, and combat search and rescue (CSAR).

The Indian navy operates eight Hindustan Aeronautics ‘Dhruv’ helicopters with 16 on order, ten Kamov Ka-28 anti-submarine warfare helicopters and 14 Ka-31 airborne early warning helicopters.

It also operates a fleet of Westland Sea King Mk.42Bs and Sikorsky UH 3H helicopters, in addition to the Chetak fleet.