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'We are open to partnering with any company that matches our ethical standards and brings skills and capabilities that can assist us to serve the Indian market'
Regional executive, India & South Asia, Sikorsky Aircraft Corp, Air Vice Marshal Arvind Walia (retd)

Arvind Walia India has been a potential market for a long time now, but somehow the full potential continues to elude. With your experience of the last few years, how do you view the Indian rotorcraft market, across services?
India has a huge potential for helicopters. India’s growing economy will need helicopters to address demand for VIP transport, support offshore oil/ gas operations, access far-flung business operations, search-and-rescue operations and the like. The armed forces in India would need upwards of 1,000 helicopters in the coming decade, in order to modernise its inventory.

How has defence helicopter technology evolved at Sikorsky, both in terms of capabilities and safety?
Upgrades in aviation are an on-going process to improve and enhance the capabilities of the product and also to meet the customer requirements. Having said that, as a practice Sikorsky works very closely with customers worldwide to expand the envelop and improve its products.

Sikorsky’s S-70i Black Hawk and S-70B Sea Hawk are accustomed to fit requirements of the Indian defence forces. These helicopters come with modern, battle-proven warfare mission solutions with a blend of state-of-the-art technology and field proven safety requirements.

Do you see a possibility of partnering with an Indian aerospace company either for joint development or joint production?
We are open to partnering with any company that matches our ethical standards and brings skills and capabilities that can assist us to serve the Indian market.

Can you sum up the various programmes, across services that Sikorsky is participating in or is interested in? At what stages are these programmes?
Sikorsky has been responding to, and will continue to respond to, the Request for Information (RFIs) and Request for Proposal (RFPs) being issued by the ministry of defence and has a wide range of pioneering and proven aircraft that cater to the needs of India’s civil aviation, defence preparedness and internal security requirements.

Sikorsky believes in aligning its charter for India with the charter of Indian MoD that is of self-reliance.

Given that some of these programmes, especially Indian Navy’s MRH, have been delayed a lot, how has this affected the cost of the helicopter? How will you ensure that you remain competitive over the life of the platform?
The delays in procurement are counterproductive to both the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and the government. As an OEM works with multiple ancillary units and sub vendors, who also hold the price as listed in the commercial envelop of the OEM, a delay in finalisation of a contract would lead to companies going into red, thus making the project untenable from a cost standpoint.

Therefore if any project is delayed beyond the defined timeline, the Government of India should plan to compensate the L1 vendor with an internationally accepted escalation factor.

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