Eruocopter AS565 MB Naval Panther, a military variant of the Dauphin, is a likely contender for the IN's Naval Utility Helicopter project. Photo Credit: Eurocopter
The Indian Navy (IN) floated a RFP for 56 light utility helicopters on August 7, 2012 to replace its fleet of ageing Chetak helicopters.
Also on August 7, 2012, CNS Admiral Nirmal Verma told the press "the Naval Utility Helicopter is also planned for induction by 2016 and the Request for Proposal should get issued any time now."
In May 2010, the IN had released a request for information for the helicopters.
The IN is looking for twin engine helicopters with a max weight of 4.5 ton that is capable of flying day or night in adverse weather conditions from shore or from ship.
The helicopter will be used for casualty evacuation, logistics support, observation and surveillance, and electronic intelligence. It is required to be capable of engaging undersea targets using light torpedoes and depth charges, and surface targets using rockets and machine guns.
The requirement for shipboard operations suggests a helicopter with folding rotor blades.
The helicopter is required to be delivered with a major support and simulator package.
Field trials of the helicopter, as part of the selection process, will be held in India.
The RFP was issued to several major helicopter, firms including AgustaWestland, Bell Helicopter, Eurocopter and Russian Helicopters, industry sources told Flight magazine.
Two companies responded to the RFP - Eurocopter AS565 MB Naval Panther, a military variant of the popular Dauphin, and the AgustaWestland AW139. [Ref PIB]
Earlier, HAL expressed its inability to bid against the requirement citing challenges in modifying its Dhruv to feature folding rotor blades.