Indian Navy Invites Bids for Light Utility Helicopters

 - August 17, 2012, 10:38 AM
The Indian Navy wants to replace its aging HAL Chetaks, a license-built version of the French Alouette III.

The Indian Navy has issued a request for proposal (RFP) for 56 light utility helicopters (LUH) to eight OEMs, including government-owned Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL). Submissions are due by January 7 next year, with the winner expected to enter service in 2016.

The navy wants to replace its fleet of HAL Chetak helicopters, a license-built version of the Alouette III. Of the 85 Chetaks that the navy received up to 2002, approximately 60 remain in service. In addition, the coast guard operates 17.

Submission periods are usually around three months, and the additional three months provided under this RFP are intended to give HAL time to prepare its concept and submit performance parameters that can qualify it as a bidder, an official told AIN. HAL will probably adapt its own LUH design for the naval role.

The bid requires a four-seat twin-engine helicopter (for two pilots and one assistant/winch operator) with foldable rotor blades and a max takeoff weight that does not exceed 4.5 metric tons (9,921 pounds). The RFP requires a range of 200 nm with the maximum payload of 1,102 pounds; offensive capability for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) should include a light torpedo or depth charge and a mount for 12.7-mm machine guns or two rocket launchers on either side, to be supplied by the lead integrator.

Some missions to be undertaken by the new LUH fleet would include search-and-rescue; casualty evacuation; sling loads; limited observation and surveillance; and anti-terrorism/anti-piracy missions with small arms. The bid states that the helicopter should be able to operate in adverse weather by day and night from small decks, as well as the larger decks of aircraft carriers.

Contenders include AgustaWestland, Bell, Eurocopter, Kamov, Kazan, MD Helicopters and Sikorsky, as well as HAL.