India's defence ministry has advanced its rotorcraft transformation process by issuing a request for proposals for 12 new transport helicopters to be acquired for service entry by 2010, including eight to be employed for VIP duties.

Industry sources say the AgustaWestland EH101, NH Industries NH90 and Sikorsy S-92 are among designs likely to be in the fray for the competition. The successful bidder will be required to provide product support such as maintenance, materials and spare parts for a minimum of 30 years, and to undertake offsets amounting to 30% of the total contract value, in line with an Indian government ruling on military contracts announced earlier this year.

Eight of the new aircraft should have a VIP cabin configuration with a seating capacity of at least 10 people, while the remaining four utility aircraft will be required to carry at least 20 passengers. The aircraft are to have a minimum range of 400km (220nm).

The type should have missile approach warning systems, radar and laser warning receivers, countermeasures dispensers, sensors to warn against ground fire and equipment to reduce its infrared signature, the request says.

Source: Flight International