In September 2008, Flight International reported that India’s defence ministry has issued a tender for “advanced multirole naval helicopters” to several manufacturers around the world, including AgustaWestland, EADS and Sikorsky. The initial RFP reportedly covered 16 helicopters, with a potential expansion to 60 helicopters.
The problem, as usual, is that nothing happened for years, while critical Indian defenses were left rotting. India’s naval sphere of influence is growing, and the country purchased long-range P-8i jets to improve its territorial coverage. Unfortunately, that can’t paper over a glaring hole in India’s defenses. The Navy currently has many high-end ships without serious naval helicopter capability. Few of their Russian Ka-28s are still fit for service, and their small and aged Sea King fleet faces both technological and airframe limitations. It’s a terrible policy for a country that continues to add high-cost, high-value ships to its fleet, in a region with more and better submarines.