New Delhi. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp, a unit of United Technologies Corp, is in talks with Indian companies, including the Tata group to manufacture the famous Black Hawk helicopters in India, informed Stephen B. Estill, Vice President in charge of strategic partnerships.
“We will treat India and the Indian government requirements as we treat the USA and the US government requirements,” he said during a recent visit here.
“We have drawn a road map whereby Sikorsky intends to bring the Black Hawk in India and also produce it here. We plan to expand our facility in Hyderabad city to make the military choppers. The unit currently makes aerospace components under a joint venture with Tatas.”
“The creation of the facility would of course depend upon the Indian Government. We foresee a requirement of the Blackhawk type of helicopter, and if the Indian forces choose it in numbers, say around 60, we could shift the manufacturing facility to India,” Estill said.
The UH-60-A Black Hawk helicopters are medium-range, all weather, tactical apprehension aircraft used by Air and Marine forces to protect the American public from threats of attacks, terrorism and drug smuggling and to enforce airspace security over critical venues.
The Blackhawks, which usually fly with a crew of at least three (pilot, copilot and crew members), are large, powerful helicopters, which can carry all the equipment and personnel necessary for law enforcement operations without sacrificing range and speed. In addition, they are well suited to the all weather hazardous environments in which Air and Marine forces routinely operate.
The Blackhawk has a max cruise speed of 150 knots, service ceiling altitude of 20,000 feet, range of 600 NM, endurance 4.5 hours and max gross weight 22,000 lbs. There are some unique features like internal auxiliary fuel tanks, infrared detection system (IRDS) and night sun spotlight. The system is also night vision goggles compatible.
According to AVM (Retd) AJS Walia, Managing Director Sikorsky India and South Asia, India has a wealth of talent. “We at Sikorsky are very upbeat about the talent and skill that is available, and to exploit this wealth, thereby generating employment and servicing both the local and Asia-Pacific markets.”
He further stated, “Sikorsky is known for its safety of the occupants and the machine. It is the most important parameter. To achieve this kind of safety we provide a standard equipment called Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS). Our USP is that it is inbuilt and doesn’t come as an option.”
Apart from possibly selling 16 helicopters to India, Sikorsky will also lease out 20 choppers to the Indian Coast Guard, said a hopeful Estill.
After the 26/11 Pakistani terror attacks in Mumbai, India’s requirements for homeland security, including to protect the coasts, has grown manifold as nothing much had been done before. The Indian Navy, Coast Guard and state police forces, all need helicopters in numbers to monitor and protect the Indian waters and vital installations.
It may be recalled that Igor Sirosky invented the helicopter after he considered that fixed wings aircraft could not have saved lives. True to his philosophy, Sikorsky has been innovating continuously to meet the need of the various nations.
Sikorsky has provided helicopters to fly US Presidents from Eisenhower to Obama, as also the Queen of England and other VVIPs.
“The list is endless,” obsrved AVM Walia.
© India Strategic