February 08, 2013
Credit: Credit: Lockheed Martin
BENGALURU — Lockheed Martin plans to pitch the MH-60 to meet the Indian navy’s requirement for multirole helicopters, and is discussing the possibility of in-country production.
“We’re looking at Sikorsky to lead the campaign,” says George Barton, vice president of business development for Lockheed Martin ship and aviation systems, speaking Feb. 6 on the sidelines of Aero India. Sikorsky is Lockheed Martin’s partner in the MH-60 program.
Barton says if Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky win the deal to supply 123 naval multirole helicopters, it is likely to be a direct commercial transaction with the foreign military sales (FMS) framework used for some items. He says they will be offering India a mixed fleet comprising the MH-60R and MH-60S.
Sometimes countries facing budget constraints are tempted to go for a cheaper helicopter than the MH-60R. Barton, however, says of India: “I think they do have the budget. It’s a very large procurement process they are about to take on.”
A request for information has already been issued, but so far there has been no request for proposals. It is understood that the government will want many of the helicopters to be assembled in India.
“We’ve had a number of discussions already with India’s ministry of defense about co-production,” Barton says. Generally speaking, the U.S. government is becoming more amenable to the idea of U.S. defense companies doing manufacturing work overseas, if that is what it takes for them to win more export deals, he says.
“The U.S. government in the last six months has taken a hard look at how to support U.S. industry through co-production,” Barton says, adding that dialogue is taking place with the U.S. State Department about this issue. “I’m very happy the U.S. government is engaging with its partners,” he says. “There is a new incentive on the U.S. government’s part.”