Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, is ready to build a fleet of Head of State helicopters for the Indian Government based on the S-92 model.
“Sikorsky will be and is ready to respond to a request for proposals whenever the Indian Government issues an RFI/RFP,” said Air Vice Marshall Arvind Walia (Retd), Sikorsky’s regional executive for India & South Asia, said in a statement today.
Following the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper cam as a result of which two AW-109 lie grounded in Delhi, the Indian MoD has shifted to its fleet of Russian–made Mi-17-V5 transport choppers six of which have been configured as VVIP transport. In addition to VVIP interiors the machines come with missile protection systems.
There are reports that another 10 are required to make up the full complement of VVIP fleet and that these would be sourced from 48 additional Mi-17-V5 ordered in 2015.
The Indian MoD has not issued any new RFP or even an RFI for VVIP helicopters and in this context the offer by Sikorsky comes as a surprise.
However, a source familiar with the developments said that the requirement for VVIP helos also includes state governments, hotels and high net worth individuals. Several states which had ordered AgustaWestland choppers are faced with maintenance issues as the British-Italian company has withdrawn all of its service personnel from India following the protracted brawl with the Indian government.