The Indian Navy on Friday started the process for leasing naval utility helicopters with the issue of a Request for Information (RFI) to foreign vendors and authorised leasing firms for 24 choppers.
The RFI document, available on the Ministry of Defence website, says that the lease will be for a period of five years and will include all maintenance support including performance-based logistics along with the training of air and maintenance crew.
According to original plans, the Indian Navy was to procure more than 100 helicopters under the strategic partnership model with private firms but those have run to rough weather. So it has decided to lease the helicopters to plug critical capability gaps.
The RFI document states that the helicopter needs to be five tonnes or below in weight and should be able to perform search and rescue and medical evacuation from sea, communication duties to and from ships at sea besides low intensity maritime operations while operating from ships and shore day and night.
The Navy has also specified that the helicopters should be twin-engined, with the capacity to seat two pilots, have wheeled landing gear and blade fold capability. They should also have a stand for a 7.62-mm gun, which will be provided by the user for “the Low Intensity Maritime Operations role.”
The RFI says that the 24 helicopters will be leased by the Navy, including ground support equipment to operate from two bases — one each in the western and eastern seaboards.