Indian Navy chooses S 70B as Multi Role Helicopter
The Indian navy is receiving a much awaited boost for its rotary wing. The navy is expected to acquire 16 naval multi-role helicopters under a $1 billion deal. The naval rotary arm has been crippled with repeated crashes and the service availability of the Chetak and Sea king hitting a new time low. These Sea kings and Chetak were primarily used for ASW, SAR and reconnaissance missions.
After year’s field trials and evaluation the Navy has finally selected the Sikorsky S 70 B multi role helicopters to replace the aging Sea King helicopters. The S 70 B has superseded the European NH 90. The S 70 is based on the legendary Black Hawk air-frame. The S 70 can be operated from an array of naval platforms.
Armed with heavy torpedo’s and depth charges the S-70 B will be an integral part of the critical ASW (Anti Submarine Warfare) missions. The S 70B will carry Hellfire missiles and Harpoon missiles which will enable the copter to deal with any surface threats.
Even though the order is for only sixteen helicopters, it is expected to be increased in the near future. The Navy has plans to field these S-70 B’s onboard the new Kolkata destroyers and the P-17A frigates. IAC-I, INS Vikrant’s air wing is also to be finalized in the coming days, the Ka-31 and Sea wing are expected to form the network centric and AWACS platform. Indian navy is yet to officially announce the ASW aircraft for the carrier, with India having tested the S-70 B for various parameters it is no wonder these are the favorites.
The S-70 B for the Indian Navy will be carrying the FLASH (Folding Light Acoustic System for Helicopters) as against the export standard HELRAS (Helicopter Long-Range Active Sonar). The FLASH will enable S-70 detect submariners at longer ranges and greater depths. The Heptr will also be capable of dropping sonobouys which will help in detecting submarines and torpedo’s, these sonobouys can boost the situational analysis around a port or key off-shore installation.
The Navy currently operates the Russian Ka 27 helicopters for ASW missions. The load and range of the Ka-27 is extremely limited. With the Navy stressing for modernized fleet the induction of Ka-27 and Ka-31 would have been a setback for its mission. The S-70 B’s are marvels and have proved their might serving the US Navy over the years and still remain the mainstay ASW helicopter of the US Navy. The $1 billion deal will include assisting India with logistical support, maintenance, spare parts and training air crew. The aircraft has to be supplied with AGM hellfire missile, Mk 46 Torpedo's and 30mm cannon.
The Navy's primary requirement is 91 Naval MR Helicopters. With the home grown Dhruv evolving with every passing day, the navy has not been able to finalize the capability and scope of the Dhruv. The navy has forwarded a $ 3 billion deal to the DAC which may be cleared under the Make in India campaign. Sikorsky has inked a deal with the Indian giant Tata and is already involved in the manufacturing S 92 cabins which are being used in the US version
Editor Karthik Kakoor