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Indian Navy to negotiate purchase of multi-role helicopters

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New Delhi: The Indian Navy is finally set to open price negotiations with Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation for buying 24 Seahawk S-70B shipboard multi-role helicopters (MRHs) for its operational requirements.

Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) sources told India Strategic defence magazine that although the helicopters were selected in December 2014, there were some issues over cost escalations due to the delay in the procurement process, and the Connecticut, US-based company’s insistence that it could not hold the prices it had offered in 2008. Recently, however, Sikorsky had relented and its team is due to be invited soon for an early conclusion of the price negotiations.

The subject is also likely to be on the agenda during Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar’s visit to Washington on December 9-10.

Notably, the Indian Navy had invited bids in 2008 from Sikorsky for S-70B and European NH Industries (NHI) for NH 90. There was some hesitation in opening the latter’s bid, as Finmeccanina, which got embroiled in controversy over the acquisition of VVIP helicopters for the Indian Air Force (IAF), is a major partner in this European consortium.

Sikorsky accordingly had a walkover, but it asked for a revision in prices as the selection process had taken more than twice the stipulated timeline and the delivery, in any case, has to be three years after the price negotiations conclude and a contract is signed. That is roughly 10 years after its offer was submitted.

Somehow, the MoD repeatedly sought extensions of Sikorsky’s bid, delaying the acquisition process timelines from less than three years to six. Nonetheless, it said there was no provision for cost escalation during the selection and negotiation process.

Meanwhile, in another development, Sikorsky has been acquired by Lockheed Martin (LM) from United Technologies Corporation (UTC). After the completion of the merger process in early November, Sikorsky was shown for the first time as a Lockheed Martin company at the Dubai Airshow on November 8.

As for the current status in negotiations with the Indian Navy, the chief of the naval staff, Admiral Robin Dhowan, when asked about the Seahawks, replied that the process was now in an “advanced stage”.

Notably, the tender, or Request for Proposals (RfP), had sought 16 helicopters with an option for eight more. But Admiral Dhowan had told India Strategic earlier that as the navy was short of these machines, the deal could be for all the 24 machines.

It may be recalled that the navy had originally planned to acquire 54 MRHs, and 16 of these should have come in 2007 as the replacement for the first lot of quarter-century-old British Westland Sea Kings. More were to follow progressively. This has not happened, and the Sikorsky Seahawks are likely to start arriving only from 2019, more than a decade late.

The Sikorsky deal is estimated to be around $1 billion-plus for 16 helicopters but there is no official word yet on prices from either side.

Weapons and sensors will be extra – possibly from other companies but Sikorsky will integrate them in accordance with the contract. The weapon suite will have the capability to deal with both underwater (ASUW or anti-submarine warfare) and ASW (anti- surface-ship warfare). Among the suppliers for radars and weapons should be the US Raytheon and Telephonics as well as French Thales. The power plants (two engines per machine) will be from GE.

It may be noted that the Indian Navy has substantial achievements to its credit for building ships indigenously, and with a three aircraft carrier policy, it will need several hundred helicopters for engaging threats and for the ship to ship or ship to shore communications.

(Gulshan Luthra, IANS)

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TU-142M, a long range Maritime Patrol aircraft of Indian Navy decommissioned after 29 years of service arrives at Vizag to be converted into Museum

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TU-142M, a long range Maritime Patrol aircraft of Indian Navy decommissioned after 29 years of service arrives at Vizag , Wikimedia

Visakhapatnam, Apr 8, 2017: TU-142M, one of the long range Maritime Patrol aircraft of the Indian Navy which was decommissioned after 29 years of service, arrived here on Saturday, to be converted into a museum.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu received the aircraft at INS Dega. He presented bouquets to the five-member crew as the aircraft landed for the final time.

Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command, Vice Admiral HCS Bisht and other officials attended the ceremony.

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Earlier, the aircraft took off from INS Rajali, the air station of the Indian Navy at Arakkonam, Tamil Nadu.

The TU-142M aircraft is the heaviest, fastest and highest flying Turbo prop in the world which had been the mainstay of long range maritime reconnaissance and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Operations of the Indian Navy for close to three decades.

Authorities were making preparation to convert the aircraft into a museum on the lines of Kursura Submarine Museum on the Beach Road here. It is expected to be ready on one acre of land on Beach Road by June. The entire project is expected to cost Rs 10 crore.

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Officials said the technical evaluation of tenders by five companies for converting the aircraft into a museum was completed and financial bid would be opened soon.

The aircraft would be dismantled at INS Dega and shifted to the site for assembling and converting it into a museum. The district authorities have finalised the tender for dismantling and shifting the aircraft. (IANS)

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Indian Navy bids farewell to TU 142M patrol aircraft

The end of Tupolev 142M's illustrious and successful career with the Indian Navy was marked by the de-induction of the aircraft

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Tupolev 142M aircraft, wikimedia

Arakkonam, March 29: The Indian Navy’s long-range maritime patrol aircraft TU 142M, which played a key role in a number of key operations including the IPKF mission in Sri Lanka, was de-inducted today after a long run of accident-free service of 29 years.

The aircraft made in Russia was bid adieu by the Indian navy including its Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba at a ceremony at INS Rajali here, about 90 km from Chennai.

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The end of Tupolev 142M’s illustrious and successful career with the Navy was marked by the de-induction of the aircraft.

Tupolev 142M fleet is being replaced by 12 P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft of Boeing which are well-equipped with rockets, newly developed radars, harpoon anti-ship missiles, lightweight torpedoes, new generation sensors and much more advanced technology.

In 1988, TU 142M was introduced in the Navy at Dabolim in Goa from Russia. It shifted base to INS Rajali in 1992 and became a part of several naval exercises and operations in it’s long service-period.

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Praising and remembering the services of the TU 142M, Admiral Lanba mentioned the key role played by the aircraft in several missions involving the Indian Navy including the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) operations in Sri Lanka in the late 1980s.

For Lanba and the navy, TU 142M stands as a proud symbol of pride and might, adding that the de-induction ceremony was an emotional moment for the personnel involved with it.

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According to PTI reports, he also mentioned that P-8i with its modern technology including new-generation sensors and radars will be a “force multiplier.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang

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Indian subsidiary of French naval major DCNS contributes to Clean Ganga Fund

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River Ganga, Wikimedia

New Delhi, March 24, 2017: DCNS India, the Indian subsidiary of French naval major DCNS, on Friday said it has contributed to the Clean Ganga Fund.

“DCNS India’s contribution will enable to tackle major challenges posed to Ganga, holy river of India, in a comprehensive approach adopted by Government of India, through four different modes – wastewater management, solid waste management, industrial pollution and river front development,” said a company statement.

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The firm’s contribution was handed over to Upendra Prasad Singh, Director General, National Mission for Clean Ganga.

In his remarks at the occasion, DCNS India Managing Director Bernard Buisson said: “DCNS India is proud to contribute to Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission, in order to ensure effective abatement of pollution and conservation of Ganga.

“As major partner of MDL and the Indian Navy through the P75 submarines programme, DCNS Group endeavours to create long-term added-value in its activities while respecting environment and ocean protection. The Group places corporate responsibility at the heart of its sustainable growth.”

The Scorpene submarines are being built by Mazagon Dockyard Ltd at Mumbai under Project 75 with transfer of technology from DCNS. Out of the six vessels, two submarines are ready. (IANS)