Wednesday, December 31, 2014

India Opts For Western Suppliers When It Comes To Anti-Submarine Warfare

The Indian Navy has selected the S-70B SeaHawk over the NH Industries NH90 NFH. India will start negotiations to purchase 16 multi-role S-70B helicopters with an option for eight more, including logistics support and training.

A final contract has yet to be agreed upon, but is estimated to be worth around $1 billion. Once completed, the acquisition will fix a significant weakness in the Indian Navy with a number of ships not having the helicopters they're supposed to be equipped with.

The Indian Navy is currently short on naval helicopters. The existing Kamov Ka-28 and Sea King are both few in numbers and outdated. The new S-70B are expected to serve on both old and new ships, including the recently commissioned Kolkata class destroyers which can carry two helicopters.

The Sikorsky S-70B SeaHawk helicopter can perform a variety of missions, including:
  • Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
  • Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW)
  • Search and Rescue (SAR)
  • Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC)
  • Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP)
India's selection of a western vendor for naval helicopters continues a recent trend where India has gone exclusively western when it comes to anti-submarine warfare.

In a number of cases, this means replacement of systems from non-western sources such as Russia. In the case of naval helicopters, the Russian Ka-28 helicopters are to be phased out by the S-70B.

For long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare, the Tupolev Tu-142 will be succeeded by the Boeing P-8I. India has received six of the eight aircraft purchased in 2009 and the final two will be delivered in 2015. Four more may eventually be ordered.

India also recently signed a contract with Atlas Elektronik from Germany for delivery of six low-frequency Active Towed Array Sonar (ACTAS) systems and transfer of technology to allow local assembly of an additional ten systems.

The procurement of these systems had been delayed for a number of years after the German company beat rival contenders, Thales from France and L3 Communications from the US.

This led to a situation where the new Kolkata class destroyers were commissioned without their sonar systems on top of already missing their anti-submarine warfare helicopters. It's obvious that this situation, if not rectified, will prevent these ships from performing the tasks expected out of them.

The sonars will be installed on the Delhi class destroyers, Kolkata class destroyers, Talwar class frigates and other ships. Together with the S-70B and P-8I, India has addressed its ASW needs and significantly beefed up its ability to conduct anti-submarine warfare.

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