Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sikorsky Set To Win Quarrelsome Indian Contest

This was coming. In more than one way. And there's really no other way to put it. The paperwork hasn't gone out officially yet, but the NHIndustries NH90 is effectively out of the Indian Navy's multirole helicopter (MRH) contest, a fight for a 16 copter deal in which it squared off against Sikorsky's S-70B Sea Hawk. It isn't really just about being right (I had also written of the possible effects), but about how NHIndustries' fate was probably sealed long before the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter scandal threw a cloud over all of Finmeccanica's potential business (NHIndustries is 32% owned by AgustaWestland) in India.

In the readily hostile world of competitive defence contracting, the MRH competition has been a particularly ill-tempered one, with NHIndustries managing the irk the Indian Navy in 2012 with a salvo of letters protesting preferential treatment to Sikorsky's product. What followed was an unusually hostile back-and-forth in which NHIndustries even managed annoy its end customer, the Indian Navy, enough to attract counter-accusations of misdemeanour. But NHIndustries had faith in process. If it was going to lose a deal, it wasn't going to do it without a fight. Well, a fight is precisely what it was for a few months. And then the bomb dropped. 

With the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter scandal breaking, it became rapidly clear that Finmeccanica's military business interests in India stood jeopardised. Between 2012-2014, the Indian Navy had held that both helicopters had met naval requirements. In August this year, the navy even indicated that both bids were to be opened for a final price battle. But that wasn't to be. New rules specifically evolved to deal with the Finmeccanica quagmire appear to have kicked in, forcing the Indian MoD to cut NHIndustries loose and proceed with Sikorsky.

The hostility in the competition and the nature of the allegations ensured that Sikorsky's S-70B was seen as the government's 'favoured choice' (precisely NHIndustries' protest), another juicy deal India would be throwing America's way. That was the sense, at any rate. But then none of that matters anymore. This was coming.

Oh, and this isn't just about 16 helicopters. The MRH is to be followed by the N-MRH competition for 123 helicopters. Config and requirements could be identical or largely the same. The Lockheed-Martin MH-60R will be looking to compete. And it shares an airframe with the S-70B. With the loud 'Make in India' campaign only set to get louder, the Romeo is likely to compete against Airbus Heli's EC725 Caracal.

14 comments :

Anonymous said...

Well, from a basis designed in the early 70's... This series hase evolved as time passed but as a future-proof choice this may not be so wise. There is 4 decades between both competitors on the platform fundamentals, engine and flight controls cannot be compared as well as their integration with combat systems.For navy use, range is also a key parameter. As well as carrying more cargo/troops or being easier to fly when the weather becomes very bad.

Anonymous said...

Shiv the font is difficult to read. Please use a different one.

Anonymous said...

Please move the twitter feed higher up on the page.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Please be clear ..... its make in India demand and NOT "Assemble in India" with riders ..... US put riders with each weapon sales that sold has to be notified and ask permission.

Its complex to deal with US, and almost to lose its freedom.

Hope brainless beurocrats can understand that issue ...... oh but its not their money and under Toronto agreement they are trained to comply when in Harward or other US universities !!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Please be clear ..... its make in India demand and NOT "Assemble in India" with riders ..... US put riders with each weapon sales that sold has to be notified and ask permission.

Its complex to deal with US, and almost to lose its freedom.

Hope brainless beurocrats can understand that issue ...... oh but its not their money and under Toronto agreement they are trained to comply when in Harward or other US universities !!

tako Nada said...

Good news. American product is better than rest. IN can get some sign of relief.Armed version can effectively petrol the sea.

Anonymous said...

We need to buy proven stuff, loads of local value addition, cheap to maintain. I really hope they assemble the GE engine too at TASL.

Anonymous said...

Given our experience with their helicopters in the civilian arms in india ,do you really expect anyone to have faith in them.

Anonymous said...

vvip deal was sonia's corruption,its got nothing to do with NHIndustries

AviaScorp said...

Shiv,

I find the font a little 'straining' on the eyes. Not sure how others feel about it though.

Kana said...

I don't understand how Agusta's non-majority/non-controlling 30% stake in NHI should lead to NHI being treated as Agusta itself would re: blacklisting. NHI is largely a Eurocopter endeavor. And what happens if Agusta is finally cleared by India as it has been by Italy?

Irregardless, if the aircraft were to be competed against each other based on price, I would expect S-70B to still win, as it is end of life/previous gen, and if NHI's unique advantages are not counted in it's favor in some way and things are reduced to a price shoot out, then S-70 should win.

DJ said...

No: S70b imparts lot of tech from MH 60R development.
Brazil just received their lot of 6 and they are very modern.

Anonymous said...

Right at the beginning I must make clear that I am just a defence enthusiast not an expert. I have a query. I recently saw the news that navy had cleared a purchase of 16 sikorsky s70 choppers for a whooping 1 billion dollars. I thought that figure couldnt be right. Prima facie it looks like something was wrong with this price tag. My preliminary research has found that indeed something is fishy. For example turkey bought 17 of the same choppers in 2009 for 550 million dollars that amounts to 35 million per chopper and we have signed the same deal for about 60 million per chopper!!! double the price. Now even if you compute new tech or depreciation in currency it cannot be this high. Also turkey recently made a 3.5 billion deal with sikorsky to license produce these choppers in turkey for 109 choppers that amounts to an even less 32 million per chopper!!!. The more shocking part is that there is no tot or local production (navy says the order is too small) like rafale. How in the hell will sikorsky achieve 30% offsett without any local production is confusing at best. I am really keen on your thoughts on this.@admin

Gilberto Rezende-Rio Grande/RS said...

Shiv,

Brasil acquired 6 S-70B AND 50 EC-725 Caracal.

16 for each military branch and 2 for Presidential and VIP transport.

One of our new and just before delivery EC-725 to Brazilian Navy was choose to be sended to India to be presented to officials of your Navy in N-MRH contest.
This unity "Marinha 07" call sign N-7107 is already integrated to Exocet AM-39 (BR version with French warhead and Brazilian enhanced propulsion stage).

Brazilian link, news of shipment to India 9 december 2014 in a An-124-100, number RA-82045, owned by russian company Volga Dnepr Airlines.

http://www.defesaaereanaval.com.br/?p=48784