The Indian navy is looking to acquire 18 ShinMaywa US-2i amphibian aircraft, according to informed sources.
“The US-2i will be manufactured by the private sector and final assembly and integration will take place in India,” an official involved in the process says. This strategy will exclude state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics from any licenced production deal.
Deliveries are expected to begin in 2016-2018, depending on when a contract signature is obtained. Current plans call for two examples to be delivered each year, later rising to three. Flightglobal understands that the first US-2i to be assembled in India will roll out within five years of the order being placed.
Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force
The entire programme cost is estimated at around $3 billion across a seven-year period, with an offset component worth $900 million. The US-2i is estimated to have a unit cost of $90-115 million, depending on the configuration.
“ShinMaywa is planning to develop capabilities in India to realise exports worth $300 million annually from the country,” says an industry source, with its offset proposals including a plan to set up a post-doctoral centre for excellence in aerostructure design.
In what signals a transformational shift in bilateral relations, a statement released during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Japan said that "both sides have directed the joint working group [JWG] to accelerate progress in the discussions and preparations for a road map for the development of the Indian aircraft industry through US-2 amphibian aircraft co-operation, including the transfer of the aircraft and its technology to India."
The JWG has seen representations from India's cabinet committee on security, defence ministry, ministry of external affairs and navy, and extensive discussions have already taken place.
The Indian navy could use the US-2i for a number of roles, such as crew rotation at sea, supply of spares to ships, long-range search and rescue and surveillance. A request for information for an amphibian type was issued in 2010.
The Japan maritime self-defence force currently operates seven US-2s, with ShinMaywa seeking its first export sales of the type.