New Delhi: Russia has pulled out of a $1 billion contest to supply twin-engine helicopters to the Indian Coast Guard, with the procurement now heading to a single vendor situation as there was no participation from the US side either. The reasons for the pull out by Kamov this time around and the absence of an American contender are still not clear.
The ongoing procurement process for the new twin-engine heavy helicopters for the Coast Guard now just has Airbus as the single vendor. The Coast Guard requires 14 new helicopters for a variety of offshore security and surveillance tasks, media reports quoted sources.
The Coast Guard has been trying to procure the choppers since 2012 but previous attempts have not worked out due to technical and commercial reasons. The last such attempt was in 2018 after the contest was withdrawn amid allegations of leak of confidential documents.
Surprisingly, the US did not take part in the contest, even though the Sikorsky S92 had met all the technical requirements in the tests carried out in 2018. The American side could look at a direct government-to-government offering for the requirement.
The current contest began in June last year with Russia responding with its Kamov KA 32A11M and Airbus offering the H225M helicopter. In the last contest, the Airbus helicopter had been selected before the process was aborted in 2018.
Another possible contender, the Italian Leonardo Group, could not take part in the contest as it was on the banned list last year when the process started. The group has since been taken out of the list of companies banned to do business with the defence ministry.
The Coast Guard currently operates ageing Chetaks as well as indigenous Advanced Light Choppers for patrolling, search and rescue and casualty evacuation. The larger helicopters are required to cover more distances for faster reaction during operations.