T he Indian Navy has issued a Request For Information (RFI) for the procurement of a Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).
The RFI, issued earlier this month, is for the procurement of, presumably, Naval Rotary UAVs (NRUAV). While there has been talk, recently, of the possibility of Northrop Grumman’s Fire Scout being procured by the Indian Navy, especially in light of the delays in the conversion of the Chetak helicopter into an unmanned platform, the navy’s stand is all vendors will have to go through this process begun with the RFI.
Besides Northrop Grumman’s Fire Scout, the other contenders could be EADS’ Orka 1200, Boeing’s Hummingbird and Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) Malat’s NRUAV. But besides the Fire Scout, the navy understands the others to be still under development. The navy had a chance to consider the Austrian Schiebel’s Camcopter but has deemed it to small to match its requirements.
The problem India has faced in converting the Chetak into a unmanned platform is in developing systems for landing and take-off from moving platforms like the decks of warships.
Not surprisingly, the purpose of the RFI, according to defense sources is to gather information on existing systems in the market with a view for possible procurement. An understood benefit of such procurement is insight into how such systems have been made to successfully operate off moving warships.
The RFI asks for specifications relating to range, endurance, payload, launch and recovery systems. The RFI also inquires whether the respective UAVs have stealth features and the latest avionics as well as whether the UAV can be fitted with weapons.
In other news, the Indian Navy has denied reports of the departure of the Russian Akula-class submarine Nerpa for India. Reports during the day from Moscow stated the nuclear-powered submarine, to be leased to the Indian Navy, had slipped its moorings.
The navy continues to hold that the Nerpa wouldn’t be ready to be for deployment before January next year.