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Second time lucky! ICG gets approval to buy helicopters to fight against maritime terrorism

Huma Siddiqui
Besides Chetaks, the ICG is flying indigenous Advanced Light Choppers (ALH) for not only patrolling the coastlines but also in search and rescue missions.

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has got approval from the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) to send out `Buy Global' tender for 14 Twin Engine Heavy Helicopters (TEHH). These helicopters are expected to help the ICG in carrying out sustained surveillance of 7516.6 km coastline, 12 major ports, and 184 minor ports involving 13 coastal assets.

At the review of country's largest-ever Coastal Defence Exercise (Ex Sea Vigil), conducted Post 26/11 to further improve efficiency and effectiveness of coastal security earlier this year, the decision was taken to expedite the requirement for the medium-lift helicopters.

The ICG was seeking long-range helicopters and endurance of around six hours of surveillance to replace the ageing Chetaks. Besides Chetaks, the ICG is flying indigenous Advanced Light Choppers (ALH) for not only patrolling the coastlines but also in search and rescue missions.

According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), "These aircraft would enable the Coast Guard to undertake missions to prevent maritime terrorism, infiltration of terrorists by sea routes as well as Search & Rescue operations."

There were two bidders in an earlier tender which was scrapped in 2018, after Airbus, which had won the bid for EC-725, had not agreed to extend the price validity further. The other company which had bid was the US-based Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky S-92. Though both were compliant and had fulfilled all the specifications laid down, Airbus had emerged as L1.

After today's approval, the Airbus will H225M (formally EC-725) and Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky S-92 are expected to be responding to the tender.

Once the contract is finalised under the Defence Procurement Procedures, the winner company has to put back around 30 per cent as offset obligation which comes to Rs 600 crore in the Indian defence and aerospace manufacturing sector.