(This News Article Is Originally Posted on The Print by Snehesh Alex Philip)
Setting the ball rolling for the leasing of naval utility helicopters, the Indian Navy Friday issued a Request for Information (RFI) to foreign vendors and authorized leasing firms for 24 choppers.
According to the RFI, the lease will be for a period of at least five years and will include all maintenance support including performance-based logistics along with the training of the air and maintenance crew.
The helicopter needs to be in the weight category of five tonnes or below, and should be able to perform search and rescue at sea, medical evacuation from sea, communication duties to and from ships at sea and low intensity maritime operations while operating from ships and ashore day and night.
The Navy also noted that the helicopters should be twin engines, piloted by two pilots with wheeled landing gear and blade fold capability.
Furthermore, the helicopters should have a tripod or stand for a 7.62-mm gun, which will be provided by the user.
The RFI said 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.
Last date to reply to RFI is 18 June
The Navy has sought delivery of all the 24 helicopters within a period of 24 months from the date of signing the contract.
According to the RFI, the companies in contention will also have to provide an approximate of the insurance cost, which includes loss of the system in war and allied perils besides third party and direct claims.
The last date to reply to the RFI is 18 June, following which a formal order will be placed with the selected agency after getting required permissions from the defence ministry.
Last month, ThePrint had reported that after receiving responses from over a dozen companies, the Navy had decided to take only new utility helicopters on lease for its warships, and from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), to shore up its critical capability gaps in this area.
The Navy has been desperate to replace its Chetak fleet of 1960s vintage with the new naval utility helicopters (NUH), but its plans to acquire 111 such choppers under a strategic partnership has run into rough waters because of a number of reasons.
To meet the immediate requirement, the Navy had decided to lease helicopters.