India will yet again invite bids to procure heavy helicopters for its Coast Guard, probably pitching US giant Lockheed Martin and European Airbus against each other for the US $ 910 million deal to supply 14 helicopters.
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the apex decision making body of the Ministry of Defence on November 28 considered the approval for issuance of a ‘buy global tender’ reportedly worth Rs 6,500 Crore ($910.8 Million).
A statement of the MoD said “The DAC approved procurement of Twin Engine Heavy Helicopters (TEHH) for the Indian Coast Guard”. These aircraft would enable the Coast Guard to undertake missions to prevent maritime terrorism, infiltration of terrorists by sea routes as well as Search & Rescue operations, it said.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh chaired the meeting in New Delhi.
Since the 26/11 terror attacks on Mumbai, India has looked to close the gaps in its coastal surveillance architecture. The infrastructure to keep an eye on the incoming sea traffic has been put in place, the Navy’s capability has been increased. The Coast guard is getting newer ships and planes.
For helicopters the Coast Guard is seeking helicopter endurance of over 6 hours for surveillance to protect India’s 7500 kms coastline and to monitor its 2 million square km Exclusive Economic Zone. Such copters will also be handy in search and rescue and in humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HADR).
The Coast Guard, at present uses the Chetak and also the Advanced Light Helicopters.
Second attempt: An earlier tender was scrapped in 2018 after Airbus, which fielded its EC-725 was declared the winner on the basis of lower price quote declined to extend the validity of price bid, after have done nine extensions.
The Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky S-92 was the other helicopter which was considered in the previous tender. Both were technically compliant but Airbus submitted the bid that would cost lesser.
In 2018 a fresh request for information (RFI) was issued seeking a slew of capacities including maritime surveillance, interdiction and search and rescue operations. It also wanted capability to stage operations from advanced offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), the quicker ships the Coast Guard uses. The RFI also stipulated a capacity to lift 30 personnel.
Will Lockheed and Airbus lock horns again: A re-run of the competition is expected to feature an
essentially similar field involving the EC-725 – now called the Airbus H225M
and the S-92. In the past few montsh the
Lockheed has won the bid to provide 24 multi-role MH- 60R copters to the Indian