Commercial tenders for 16 Navy multi-role choppers expire

Two years after Navy issued tenders for purchase of 16 multi-role helicopters worth USD one billion, a deal is not in the pipeline since bids from two competing global manufacturers have expired.

Last Updated: Sep 02, 2010, 19:42 PM IST

New Delhi: Two years after Navy issued
tenders for purchase of 16 multi-role helicopters worth USD
one billion, a deal is not in the pipeline since bids from two
competing global manufacturers have expired.

Defence Ministry sources said today that the
commercial bids from American Sikorsky and British-Italian
AgustaWestland expired last month and the Ministry was
considering asking them to revalidate their existing offers or
revise their prices.

"Yes, the commercial tenders for the MRH from the two
companies have expired and we now intend to ask them to
revalidate or revise their offers," the sources said.

The Navy`s tenders (Request for Proposals or RFP in
defence parlance) was issued in August 2008 and the two firms
responded to the bids, while another European manufacturer did
not submit its offers. The commercial bids were valid for 18
months.

Industry sources said the two firms would respond to the
Defence Ministry`s request for revalidation or revision of
their bids, if asked to.

Sources said the Navy was yet to carry out the Flight
Evaluation Trials for the two contenders -- Sikorsky`s
S-70B SeaHawk and AgustaWestland`s NH90 -- for the contract,
though technical evaluations were completed.

The Navy urgently needs the MRH to replace its aging
SeaKing fleet inducted in 1970. It had 40-odd SeaKing
choppers in its air wing, but the numbers have come down to
about 30 helicopters due to mishaps.

The MRH`s primary role would be anti-submarine warfare
and anti-surface warfare, while its secondary role would
include search and rescue, cargo carrying and casualty
evacuation.

The RFP for the 16 MRH was initially issued in early
2006, but the tenders were cancelled two years later and
reissued in September 2008.

Two years have since elapsed, yet little progress has
been made on the procurement, Defence Ministry sources
admitted.

India also has another option to equip its Navy with MRH,
as the American Department of Defense has offered US Navy`s
workhorse MH-60R -- a Sikorsky platform with American systems
and sensors -- through the Foreign Military Sales route.

Once the contract is decided and awarded, the Indian Navy
would get delivery of the MRH within 46 months in three
phases.

The RFP provides an option of placing follow-on orders
for another 44 helicopters, once the present contract is
completed and mandates an offset clause under which the
successful bidder would reinvest 30 per cent of the contract
amount back in Indian defence industry.

PTI