The Indian Navy has issued a global tender for nine Medium Range Maritime Reconnaissance (MRMR) aircraft.
The Request For Proposal (RFP) for the specialized aircraft was issued last week. As reported by StratPost, the Acceptance Of Necessity (AON) was cleared by the Defense Acquisitions Council (DAC) in February, 2012 and at the time, the order was estimated to be worth around USD 1 billion.
The Request For Information (RFI) which formed the basis of the AON and the RFP, was sent to eight aircraft manufacturers, which included, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Airbus Military Casa, Dassault, Saab, Bombardier, Embraer and ATR.
And while navy sources indicate that the RFP has been issued to the same manufacturers, things may have changed, since the AON was issued.For instance, while initially Boeing had planned to offer a ‘Diet P-8’ for the tender, the US company might have changed it’s mind since last year. Boeing has been talking about a Maritime Surveillance Aircraft concept that would be based on a platform manufactured by some other, as yet unknown, company. This concept addresses missions like anti-piracy patrols, coastal security and search and rescue, besides others.
Much like the MRMR requirement of the Indian Navy, the MSA concept is not focused on Anti-Submarine Warfare and would not include many of the sensors and weapons systems on board the P-8. It is understood that it will, however, bring advanced radar and electronic warfare capabilities with it, besides other potential customer requirements.
Airbus Military has been keen on offering the Casa C-295 aircraft to India and has also held talks with potential Indian partners to compete for the other Indian medium range aircraft order; the program for 56 aircraft to replace the Indian Air Force (IAF) Avro fleet.
Lockheed Martin, in what was something of a surprise, unveiled it’s Sea Hercules concept at the Singapore Air Show last year. As reported by StratPost, the concept is a navalized aircraft designated the SC-130 with the roll-on-roll-off palletized surveillance payload of the P-3 Orion, which the US defense major used to manufacture. The company told StratPost last year that it had already built a it has already built a ‘maritime configuration for the C-130 that the US Coast Guard currently operates’.
Saab had offered its Saab 2000 aircraft for the competition, along with the RBS-15 Anti Ship Missile and a fifth generation Selex AESA radar. The Swedish company planned to offer re-manufactured aircraft since the production line has been closed for several years, now.
Brazil’s Embraer had offered the ERJ 145 for the contest and three of these aircraft are also already being configured by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) for its Airborne Early Warning and Command (AEW&C) aircraft program, in an order worth around USD 200 million.
The French Dassault Falcon 900, Bombardier Q400 and ATR 72 were also offered in response to the RFI.