Airbus Helicopters could set up a fourth assembly line for its H225M Caracal if it is successful in a forthcoming tender in India for naval helicopters.
The France-based manufacturer recently unveiled a pact with India’s Mahindra Defence covering the establishment of a joint venture to answer New Delhi’s pending rotorcraft requirements.
If it is successful in any of the three tenders, the partners will set up a manufacturing facility for local assembly of the helicopters under the “Buy and Make Indian” initiative.
The Caracal has been proposed for the nascent naval multi-role contest, which is still at the request for information (RFI) stage. If it wins an eventual order, however, the local assembly line for the type would add to current plants in Brazil and France, and a planned facility for the H225M in Poland.
Airbus Helicopters confirms that each tender is for a sufficient quantity of rotorcraft to make it “feasible to consider a manufacturing facility”. The nation has issued RFIs for two additional competitions covering reconnaissance and surveillance, and naval utility helicopters, for which the airframer is proposing the H125M Fennec and AS565 MBe Panther, respectively.
It confirms that there will be no element of indigenous design – as with Korea’s light civil helicopter/light attack helicopter programmes, for example – but technology transfer will form part of the offset package.
“The Indian armed forces have urgent requirements to replace their ageing fleet and our proposed helicopters are already military proven and have been evaluated by the users,” it says.
Although the initial release on the Mahindra deal raised the possibility that the production facility could also target the export market, Airbus Helicopters says it is “premature to elaborate” at this stage.
No date has been given for the release of the full tender, but the manufacturer anticipates developments in the coming months.