US helicopter firm makes commercial offer to Indian Navy

Written by Huma Siddiqui | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 31 2010, 06:09am hrs
In a bid to counter bad press that they are receiving, the US helicopter company Sikorsky has made a commercial offer to the Indian Navy. The offer includes servicing and spares for six obsolete Sikorsky UH-3H Sea King helicopters that came onboard the USS Trenton renamed as INS Jalashva which have received a lot of flak for their sub standard quality.

The comptroller and auditor general has strongly criticised the quality of the machines on the aircraft carrier that came through US government foreign military sales.

According to the CAG the ($39 million) machines did not come equipped with any type of weather or surface surveillance radar and the defence ministry failed to secure any guarantee for the replacement of defective rotables due to obsolescence.

Talking to FE, AVM (retd) AJS Walia, managing director for India and South Asia, Sikorsky Aircraft said that, We have sent an unsolicited letter to the Indian Navy offering to provide whatever support they want. We have also offered to supply spares which will finish by 2010.

These helicopters came through the government to government route. It was not a commercial deal. And that we are offering now will be a commercial deal between us and the Indian Navy, Walia added.

According to the comptroller and auditor general, the 1960s vintage aircraft - decommissioned by the US Navy in 2005 - were life-expired and had defects that could compromise their operational effectiveness.

The INS Jalashva, is the second largest ship with the Indian Navy, after the aircraft carrier Viraat and is believed to add punch to Indias maritime forces with its capacity to participate in naval operations, peacekeeping operations, tri-service operations and humanitarian relief.

The US Congress had cleared the transfer of the vessel under the Foreign Military Sales Program in August 2005 and the government signed the Letter of Acceptance on July 31, 2006.