The Indian Air Force will fly Boeing's CH-47F Chinook helicopter. (ISAF)
NEW DELHI — Boeing’s CH-47F Chinook helicopter has beaten out Russia’s Mi-26 in India’s $1.4 billion heavy lift helicopter competition.
The Indian Defence Ministry opened commercial bids last week; according to MoD sources, the Russian bid was set aside after officials failed to provide details on how they would execute their offset liabilities.
The Russian officials have not been officially notified about the results and declined to comment.
The Chinook and advanced version of the Mi-26 helicopter were put to flight trials last year in desert and high-altitude terrain.
The Indian Air Force will use the 15 heavy lift helicopters, with delivery to be completed within 54 months of the contract signing, which is expected to occur by March. The Chinooks will replace India’s existing Mi-26 fleet, more than two dozen helicopters purchased in the 1980s and the majority of which have been grounded for lack of spares. Capable of carrying more than 45 fully equipped troops, the Chinooks will be able to cruise at 230 kilometers per hour, an Indian Air Force official said.
The selection is one of several recent wins for U.S. firms in India. In October, the MoD finalized the selection of 22 Boeing AH-64D Apache helicopters over Russia’s Mi-28s in its $1.3 billion heavy duty attack helicopter program. The U.S. has contracted weapons and equipment sales of more than $8 billion in the past four years, including a $4.1 billion contract to sell 10 C-17 transport aircraft to the Indian Air Force.
“The Americans are emerging as one of the top suppliers of weapons and equipment to India, and in the years ahead, U.S. and western sources will become even more predominant in supply of weapons for India,” said defense analyst Nitin Mehta. “It is a welcome trend that India is slowly loosening its dependency on Russia for meeting its weapons needs.”
A Russian diplomat here said Russia will ensure that it continues to be a long-term supplier of weapons and equipment and would not say whether Moscow is concerned over India’s decisions favoring the U.S. and the West.
However, Russian President Vladimir Putin postponed an early November visit to India, in what analysts said is a show of displeasure over New Delhi’s arms decisions.
“The Russians have offered India several weapons programs with transfer of technology and even joint production of high-tech equipment. In cases when Washington facilitates greater cooperation with India on joint development basis, then the Russians will have to compete harder to find their [share of] India’s weapons market, estimated at over $100 billion,” said Mahindra Singh, retired Indian Army brigadier general.
The Americans are also locked in competition for the Indian Navy’s multirole helicopter program, in which NH90 helicopters of NHIndustries are competing with Sikorsky’s S-70B.
Sources said the commercial bids for 16 helicopters are expected to be opened by the end of the year. The Indian Navy has also decided to float another global tender worth more than $4 billion to purchase an additional 75 multirole helicopters.
The multirole helicopters will be needed to replace the aging Sea King helicopters from the 1980s, the majority of which are grounded due to old age and shortage of spares.
The helicopters will be used in limited intelligence gathering, search and rescue, casualty evacuation and surveillance roles.