Sikorsky’s Aim is to Work with Indian MoD and Bring the 16 MRH Project to a Closure as it has Already Been Inordinately Delayed
Regional Executive, Sikorsky, India and South Asia, Air Vice Marshal Arvind Walia (retd)
Arvind Walia 2013 has not been a great year for the helicopter programmes. How disappointed are you about the delays?
Well delays certainly are not good for any programme whether commercial or military, as it could lead to issues of cost overrun, delay in delivery schedules, obsolescence issues etc. Certainly 2013 was not a great year for helicopters as the commercial helicopter fleet dwindled and the military programmes are going too slow.

We hope that 2014 brings a much-awaited change for the helicopter industry and we see the industry growing in India.

Do you think the trend of delays in helicopter programmes will continue in 2014 as well, especially with the cancellation of AW-101 in the backdrop?
Sikorsky firmly believes in the Indian government’s procurement process, its transparency and fairness and hope that the process will move ahead and not impact the on-going projects or new projects.

What are the updates on the Naval Multi Role Helicopter programme? What stage is this programme currently at? Also, what is the response you have received for Sikorsky S-70B from Indian Navy?
Sikorsky has made its offer for Indian Navy’s Multi Role Helicopter programme. The process of flight evaluation and trials on Sikorsky helicopters has been completed and commercial bid opening is awaited. Sikorsky has extended validity of its bid again as requested by the ministry of defence (MoD). We hope that the MoD opens the commercial bid and brings the project to a close.

Do you think the government will have to bear additional costs for the helicopter programmes due to the delays? If you have to specifically talk about Navy’s MRH programme how different would the costs be from the initial estimates (if not the exact figures, please mention the percentage of increase)?
I cannot talk on behalf of the government, however as per international norms, if a project is delayed beyond a reasonable time frame, the buyer offers internationally accepted cost escalation to the seller, who wins the project. Generally the international norm is to follow an escalation factor of 4 per cent year on year.

Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin MH-60 R/S helicopter is also on offer to the Indian Navy through FMS. Do you think the Indian government will agree to this programme through FMS?
I don’t think this information is correct. We will offer a solution based on the requirements as stipulated in the RFP.

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