As Sikorsky enters its 90th year, Mick Mauer, company president, said that in 2009 he helped begin the strategy for aircraft cabins and other aerostructure components to be built in India, a project that has come together in two years.
India has not only assembled but also shipped cabins, with the first S-92 with these parts now flying in Brazil. “India is now the sole source of S-92 cabins and the production rate is increasing as sales rise,” Maurer said.
Mick Mauer, President of Sikorsky with executives at a media briefing at Aero India.
The Sikorsky roadmap for India doesn’t end with that, he continued, adding that it would also eventually result in the successful establishment of the full assembly of complete aircraft in the country, although he was not specific about which model. Sikorsky, he said, wants to establish itself as a local company in India.
When asked about Sikorsky’s joint venture with Boeing over the U.S. Joint Multi-Role (JMR) helicopter project, Mauer pointed out that the two companies had worked together before over the RAH-66 Comanche and had numerous other aftermarket projects. He said the JMR had the potential to become the biggest rotorcraft program in history with a purchase by the U.S. Army eventually over 4,000 aircraft. “We concluded that this would be a really productive partnership to give the customer the best possible solution. It tells you something about X2 technology to get Boeing’s endorsement.”
In terms of financing, he said the cost would unfold over many years but the first challenge was to produce a technology demonstrator, which would involve a cost-share program. “We are preparing a proposal right now where the U.S. government, Boeing and Sikorsky will all a pay a share. We will then reach a point where we have a fly off against at least one other configuration.”
Lutz Bertling, President and CEO of Eurocopter, during a briefing at Aero India.
Eurocopter President and CEO Lutz Bertling said that the Indian defense market had become one of the most important globally. Markets throughout the Asian region were also showing good signs of growth potential, including Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
There were two basic drivers to investment. The first was when oil & gas prices rose over $80 per barrel, and that had now been the case for some time. Another indicator and trigger for investment was when the national GDP figure exceeded $10,000 per person (which it has in Malaysia, the others have some measure of oil production).
He stated that Eurocopter was participating in three main helicopter programs within India: the 197 aircraft for the Cheetah/Chetak replacement helicopter (proposing the AS550 C3); the 56 aircraft for the Naval Utility Helicopter (AS565MBe Panther); and the 120 Naval Maritime and 14 Coast Guard helicopters (proposing the EC725). But Bertling said that the government now needed to “open the bid envelopes” and make its acquisition decisions, particularly to replace the Cheetah/Chetak aircraft. (See the March issue of Rotor & Wing for full story).
Philip Dunne, the United Kingdom Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology with Indian Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) Chief V K Saraswat.
Philip Dunne, the United Kingdom Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, visited Aero India to provide support for the UK’s largest delegation to the airshow. Looking for partnership and export opportunities for British companies, Dunne noted that the Indian armed forces were going through a generational upgrade that had begun with the Air Force and Navy and was progressing to the Army.
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