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India seeks 20 surveillance helicopters on lease

HAL Light Utility Helicopters perform during the inauguration of the Aero India 2023 show at the Yelahanka Air Force Station on 13 February 2023 in Bengaluru, India. The five-day event is held to showcase India's aerospace and defence capabilities. (Abhishek Chinnappa/Getty Images)

The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) is seeking to lease 20 reconnaissance and surveillance helicopters for the Indian Army.

In a request for information (RFI) issued on 19 July, the MoD described the period of the lease as being five years. According to the document, the lease will include ground support equipment and maintenance support. This includes performance-based logistics (PBL) and training of aircrew and maintenance crew during the term of the lease.

The RFI document stated that the helicopters should be capable of fulfilling several unique functions. These include reconnaissance and surveillance (including armed reconnaissance and aerial photography) and transporting small numbers of troops or quick-reaction teams for special missions. The helicopters must also be capable of providing directional information to artillery units.

The helicopters should also be capable of scouting operations in conjunction with attack helicopters in Indian service, such as Boeing AH-64E Apache and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Light Combat Helicopters, the document added. The MoD also intends for the aircraft to transport an airborne forward air controller (FAC), if required. The RFI said that the helicopters should also be capable of casualty evacuation (casevac), monitoring for nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) events, and providing a “dynamic” response to civilian entities during aid and relief efforts.

As combat-capable platforms, the helicopters are also required to have the ability to serve as a platform for electronic support measures (ESM), electronic countermeasures (ECM), and electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM).

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