India launches bids for 234 helicopters for navy worth $5bn
The Indian government has launched a global competition for 123 naval multi-role helicopters (NMRHs) and 111 armed naval light utility helicopters (NUH).
The NMRH would be a potent anti-submarine warfare platform while the NUH would be meant for operating off the decks of warships.
Both projects are worth $5 billion and will be executed under the new "strategic partnership" policy of "Make in India."
Indian Navy urgently needs helicopters
Navy is critically short of helicopters
The Indian Navy (IN) has only 11 ageing Kamov-28 and 17 Sea King anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters in its inventory.
The helicopters, which are in poor condition, are the all the navy has to defend its 140-warship fleet at a time when Chinese nuclear and diesel-electric submarines are increasing their patrols in the Indian Ocean.
This makes the NMRH and NUH "critical operational necessities."
What is the role of the NMRH and NUH choppers
The NMRH helicopters are meant to fly ahead of naval vessels and try detecting enemy submarines by dunking their sonars into deep waters, and neutralizing the subs through torpedoes.
They also possess early-warning equipment and missiles to seek and destroy enemy aircraft and warships.
The twin-engine NUH are meant to replace the navy's ageing single-engine Chetak helicopters.
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How the process to purchase helicopters would work
The government has issued request for information (RFI) seeking responses from various helicopter manufacturers about their products by early-October.
Formal tenders or RFPs (request for proposals) will be issued to manufacturers so they can submit technical and commercial bids.
It will take a couple of years before a specific helicopter is picked and final contracts are signed.