EC 725 won the race to supply MRH Helicopters to Coast Guard
After years of delay, finally the defense ministry shortlist the Airbus Helicopters to supply fourteen EC 725 Multi role helicopters to the Coast Guard with possible follow on orders. After the 26/11 the Coast guard comes with a list of modernization option which include naval multi role helicopters. Which can be used for long range search operations, reconnaissance operations and tactical transports. The Coast guard Chetak and ALH Dhurv limited in range and support systems which are not capable to conduct long range search and patrol missions, and the Chetak helicopters are being old.
The RFP floated earlier 2010 valued some $400 millions to supply 14 naval multi role helicopters. The bid send to multiple vendors include Sikorsky, Agusta Westland, NH Industries and Airbus, all of them presented their naval multi role variants. However ICG officials selected the Sikorsky H 92 and Airbus EC 725 for final trails. One who wins the race who will be ready to supply some 14 helicopters with follow on orders of more. Also ICG proposes Indian sub vendor for the Helicopter supply, possible Make in India program.
After serious of trails in last some months, the ICG proposes the Defense ministry to select the Airbus EC 725 to supply those MRH to ICG. with the concern of recent Joint venture between Mahindra aerospace systems and Airbus Helicopters. The deal also comes with the offset clause of some 25% making some $100 millions back to Indian private sector. mostly this amount goes to the Mahindra. meanwhile the TATA building the H 92 fuselage in India.
The twin engine EC 725 can carry upto 30 infantry troops inside it's large cabin, which can be modified into flying ambulance, by converting into beds, which suits for search and rescue missions. meanwhile the H 92 is a modified version of S 70, whose cabin size is less, compared to the EC 725. the H 92 cabin 8 feet smaller than the EC 725. makes the EC 725 carry more personnel's.
|H 92 in action|
By development the EC 725 designed to meet the French tri services, Search and rescue missions and troop transport. the EC 725 comes with defensive equipment's like integrated air defense systems and countermeasure suites. The helicopter comes with Thales designed self protection systems and the Helibras built countermeasure dispensing systems, which is the primary self defense system used in the EC 725. The H 92 self protection systems based on the proven S 70 based systems. However both helicopters are capable to operate in dense battlefield area's with the help of such defensive systems.
Both helicopters are bit heavy in configuration due to the light armor body, while the EC 725 can be retrofitted with removable armour plating for more cover. Both helicopters runs with twin engines, as EC 725 comes with Turbomecca 1776 kW engines and the H 92 comes with General Electric 1879 kW engines. With the high powerful engines the H 92 leads in the Combat range of some 500 Kilometers, where the EC 725's combat radius is some 400 kilometers. Meanwhile the EC 725 is much faster than the H 92.
The major difference between the EC 725 and H 92 is the height of flying. Indian military planners always selects much high flying helicopters for many reasons. Here the EC 725 can fly as much as 20,000 feet, while H 92 can go upto some 14,000 feet only. However both of these helicopters can fly well above from the MANPAD range.
|convertible options of H 92 in British CG SAR|
Both helicopters works in any tough weather conditions and conduct all kind of missions in both day and nights. The EC 725 can carry a pulse Doppler radar for SAR imaging and FLIR pod for search and reconnaissance missions. Which allows the Helicopters works well in both maritime and land based search and rescue missions. The H 92 comes with retrofitted systems for search and rescue missions.
British is the first customer for H 92 modified with search and rescue missions, which comes with FLIR pods, multiple communication systems and rescue hoist. The primary SAR comes with the Honeywell based Skyforce observer systems. By comparison both H 92 and EC 725 is best for Search and rescue missions.
The unique options of the EC 725 is comes with the side mounted 7.62 machine guns and Rockets for small fire support to the crew's in battlefield. which can be used for interception duties in maritime operations too. The EC 725 comes with a retractable refueling probe, which can be used for refueling in the air to increase the combat range of the EC 725 to operate much longer ranges.
As of now, The Defense ministry just shortlisted the seven years old coast guard proposal, and it may take another some years to finalize the contract and commissioning the helicopters in the Coast guard.