The fickle Indian Ministry of Defense’s approach to the procurement market appears to be veering away from its more traditional preference for “Made in Russia,” at least as far as military helicopter acquisitions seem to be heading. Boeing has been “the lucky winner” in matching a U.S. $1.4-billion requirement to replace the Indian Air Force’s Mi-26 aircraft (only three are currently flying) with 15 of its latest CH-47F Chinooks (with options for seven additional aircraft). The model supplied would have a standard fuel tank.
Confirmation is expected in early spring with delivery of the aircraft stretching over about four years. According to a source close to the MoD, the Indian Air Force needs a powerful aircraft like the Chinook to lift its new M777 howitzers. The U.S. Army currently uses the 155mm ultra lightweight BAE Systems artillery piece is currently used in Afghanistan. With mountainous terrain in the north and east of India, particularly around the sensitive border with Pakistan, the need for Chinooks to position these guns in hot and high environments is thought likely. Weighing in at less than 10,000 lbs., they are well within the Chinooks load carrying capacity, even at hot and high altitudes.
The CH-47F has beaten the Russian Mi-26T2 offering which would have been a type replacement for the IAF’s existing Mi-26s (of which only three are thought to currently be active). The tender involved technical trials and an examination of acquisition and through life costs. Boeing is now positioned as an L1 vendor. This follows on from Boeing’s earlier $1.3-billion confirmation of contract to supply 22 of its latest AH-64E Apaches to the Indian Air Force, beating Russia’s Mi-28N Night Hunter. Now it appears the Indian Army is also showing interest in owning its own rotary attack force, much against the IAF’s wishes.
Looking further afield, the Republic of Indonesia has had a similar interest in Chinooks and Apaches. Although the numbers of Chinooks it is considering is relatively small, perhaps up to four, and probably CH-47Ds rather than the new CH-47Fs. However, Indonesia also has newfound purchasing power and is planning expansion across its armed forces. It has already requested eight AH-64Es, together with a number of Longbow fire control radars and Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.
Related: Procurement News