Waiting for Defence Ministry to open bids for supplying 16 helicopters
Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation plans to ramp up production of its cabins for S-92 helicopters from the facility of Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) in the Aerospace Special Economic Zone, about 50 km from Hyderabad.
The TASL facility will increase its annual capacity from 12 to 26 from this month and later scale it up to 36 per annum because of the rising global demand for the S-92 helicopters. Sikorsky has so far delivered 160 of these helicopters for a variety of uses ranging from defence, offshore oil exploration, search and rescue, VIP travel and internal security.
Steve Estill, Vice-President, strategic partnerships, Sikorsky, and Air Vice-Marshal Arvind Walia told reporters during a plant visit on Monday that the ninth S-92 cabin (with a capacity to seat 22 passengers) was ready for shipment to the U.S.
The components are now sourced from abroad but, before long, there would be 80 per cent indigenisation by acquiring components from Tara Aerospace, a joint venture of TASL and Sikorsky within the SEZ, which would manufacture an array of 4,000 components and sub-assemblies. It had started production last month.
They said that Sikorsky, which manufactures Black Hawk and Sea Hawk helicopters globally, had ambitious plans to enter India's defence market which has been thrown open to the private sector. Sikorsky was waiting for the Ministry of Defence to open commercial bids for supplying 16 helicopters for the Indian armed forces.
Without divulging numbers, they said the Tata-Sikorsky joint venture was also looking at supplying multi-role helicopters for the Indian Navy, the order likely to be in the ‘buy and make' category.
In January, they had applied for a licence to set up a manufacturing facility in India where the final assembled product would roll out. They expected to receive the licence in the next few months.
To a question, they said they did not see any competition from the proposal of the Tatas to start a helicopter manufacturing unit in collaboration with Agusta Westland since it would be a single-engine chopper against twin-engined helicopters manufactured by Sikorsky.
They envisioned a vast potential for helicopters in India and expected the country to emerge as the second largest market after the U.S. In the next 25-30 years, there was market potential of $6-8 billion in the commercial sector and $18-22 billion on the defence side.