|Posted: Fri Aug 29, 2008 5:39 pm Post subject: Sikorsky loses IAF helicopter contract
Sikorsky loses Indian Air Force contract
Article Last Updated: 08/29/2008 02:01:05 AM EDT
Stratford-based Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. was unable to pry a $300 million Indian Air Force contract away from European rival AgustaWestland.
Tuesday, Defense News reported the Indian Air Force selected Agusta's EH101 to shuttle around VIPs, instead of Sikorsky's S-92.
"We offered a very capable aircraft and are disappointed by the decision," Sikorsky spokesman Paul Jackson said in an e-mail Thursday. "We've requested additional information from the government regarding this decision and intend to continue competing for contracts in India, which we consider to be an important market."
Richard Aboulafia, a defense analyst with Virginia-based Teal Group, said Sikorsky was facing long odds in winning this contract in India for a number of reasons.
"The 101 is bigger," he said. "It's more expensive, but it's bigger. This is not the mission where the military would choose savings over comfort. We're talking VIPs."
He said the S-92 is an efficient aircraft that costs about $8 million less per helicopter than the 101. But the 101's cabin size allows for more space.
But it's not just a size disadvantage Sikorsky has to battle in trying to crack open the Indian market, Aboulafia said.
The Europeans have a long history of success in India providing military equipment and vehicles, he said.
For example, the Indian Air Force has a fleet of 380 Russian-built MIG 21 jets. The Indians also fly a lot of European helicopters and have for decades, Aboulafia said.
"U.S. military contractors are just getting their foot in the door," he said.
An e-mail seeking comment from the Italian Agusta was not returned Thursday.
Shares of Sikorsky's parent company, United Technologies Corp., closed up $1.67 to $66.77 in Thursday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
BY: Shahid Faridi
Italian helicopter giant AgustaWestland, manufacturer of the state-of-the-art EH-101 choppers, is all set to get a contract for the supply of 12 helicopters to carry Indian VVIPs.
The deal is worth about 400 million Euros (2,600 crore rupees) but is expected to go up to 600 million Euros (3,900 crore rupees) as India is planning to ask the suppliers to install a few more equipments on the choppers. A Field Evaluation done by the IAF has recommended the EH-101, now known as AW-101 helicopters, as the machine that would be safe, spacious, high-powered and comfortable to be used to ferry the Indian president, prime minister, and other top VVIPs across the country.
The U.S. president uses the same helicopter, codenamed “Marine One”. The AW-101’s nearest competitor, American Sikorsky S-92 Superhawk, was found incompatible with the requirements of the IAF on several counts – mainly its capacity to carry the required number of people and power.
The S-92, a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration certified helicopter, has so far clocked 77,000 fleet hours compared to AW-101’s 1,15,000 hours. The AW-101 is also based on Merlin Mk 3A machine, which is flying with the military forces of many western countries.
Among the main drawbacks of the S-92, as mentioned in the Field Evaluation report, was its low Service Ceiling (rate of climb 0.5 metre/sec) of 4.01 km whereas the IAF wants it to be not less than 4.5 km.
Another important IAF requirement is that the “drift down altitude in the event of One Engine Inoperative with payload of 10 passengers inVVIP configuration + 300 kg load and fuel for 1 hr + 15% reserve not be less than 1,500 metres”. During the field trials, the S-92 was found to be 390 lbs heavier. The Hover Out of Ground Effect (HOGE) with the same parameters was also expected to be not less than 1,500 metres, but the aircraft was found to be heavier by 1,900 lbs. On some other points, the S-92 showed “partial compliance”, which would work for non-VVIP aircraft that accompany the VVIP ones. On the AW-101, the Field Evaluation report states the aircraft complies with all the requirements. The report concludes that the S-92 “is non-compliant with three SQRs (Staff Quality Requirements) for VVIP helicopters and one SQR for the non-VVIP version; further, it is partially compliant with two non-VVIP SQRs”.
It further states: “Since the S-92 is non-compliant with SQRs for its VVIP aircraft, its offered package of VVIP and non-VVIP helicopters, is not recommended for induction.”
The report says the AW-101 is “fully compliant” with the SQRs and therefore, “the proposal offered by AgastaWestland as a package (VVIP and non-VVIP) would be suited to meet the role for which the RFP was floated; the helicopter is, thus, recommended for induction into service”. The report says the AW-101 was also preferred by the SPG for its larger volume; besides other advantages, it gives it an inherent “growth potential” for additional equipment at a later stage.
“The higher tail boom height of the AW-101 is also seen as an advantage by the SPG as it would permit VVIP cars to come directly near the rear airstairs, thus providing exposure time to the VVIPs in high threat areas. The Field Evaluation report also adds that irrespective of the
helicopter selected, a Project Monitoring Team, must be formed at the contract stage to closely monitor the programme.
Copyright AgustaWestland EH101 Series