Sikorsky flies to India

As I mentioned earlier, India is clearly moving away from the Russian arms market. The Indian government decided to mass-produce the new main battle tank Arjun instead of buying Russian T-90. The Indian Air Force announced the French Air Fighter as the preferred bidder in the competition with the Su-30MKI and contracted for 126 Rafales, services, and parts could be worth as much as $20 billion. In fine, the latest P-8I Neptune (Indian version of Boeing P-8 Poseidon) delivery was part of an eight-aircraft contract worth $2.1 billion awarded in January 2009 to replace India’s ageing Russian Tupolev Tu-142Ms.

MH-60S delivery for Thai Navy
MH-60S delivery for Thai Navy

In light of the above, the last post by Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. looks like a logical continuation of this clear trend. Namely, India’s Navy has selected Sikorsky to fulfill the service’s Multi-Role Helicopter requirement for anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare (ASW/ASuW), among other maritime roles. Negotiations will now begin to procure 16 S-70B Seahawk helicopters, with an option for 8 additional aircraft, along with a complete logistics support and training program (Source: Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.).

«India’s selection of the S-70B helicopter represents a major strategic win for Sikorsky in an important growth market, and positions us well for future opportunities», said Mick Maurer, President of Sikorsky Aircraft. «We look forward to a long-term collaboration with the Indian Government and local industry as we work to bring the Indian Navy the highly advanced multi-role S-70B aircraft».

The proposed Indian Navy S-70B helicopter variant will include avionics and flexible open architecture Weapons Management Systems that integrate an advanced sonar, 360-degree search radar, modern air-to-surface missiles, and torpedoes for the ASW role. A blade and tail fold capability will facilitate shipboard storage.

The new S-70B aircraft will also enhance the Indian Navy’s capabilities to perform non-combat maritime roles, including search and rescue, utility and external cargo lift, surveillance and casualty evacuation.

Sikorsky has fielded increasingly more capable variants of the S-70B helicopter since 1984 for navies that prefer to acquire a modern, fully integrated ASW/ASuW platform direct from the manufacturer. Now operational in 6 countries (in Europe, Middle East, Asia and Latin America), the S-70B platform has a solid reputation for highly reliable shipboard operations and maintenance while operating aboard frigates and larger naval vessels. The S-70B aircraft is part of Sikorsky’s Seahawk helicopter family (including the SH-60 and MH-60 models) that has accumulated almost 4 million flight hours from more than 800 operational aircraft, and is considered one of the safest platforms available.

At the same time, it should be noted that some Navy experts consider this contract as a rather «strange» deal. The fact is that India didn’t procure the latest MH-60R production standard like other navies. Instead, India’s Navy has elected to go for a direct commercial purchase of S-70B helicopters. Thus, India has lost all benefiting from a standard configuration, a larger component and spares pool, and the financial and sustainment advantages of the Foreign Military Sales channel, which has been used for India’s other recent large arms purchases from the US.

I can give as an assumption that India’s Navy is going to use the S-70B platform with flexible open architecture for specific purposes. Based on the Sikorsky S-70B, Indian engineers can create helicopters with original avionics and weapons systems.

Two multi-mission MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters fly in tandem
Two multi-mission MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters fly in tandem


Powerplant and fuel system

Number of Engines:                                 2

Engine Type:                                                T700-GE401C

Maximum Take Off:                                 3,426 shp (2,554 kw)

OEI Shaft horsepower (30 sec):        1,911 shp (1,425 kw)



Maximum Gross Weight:                       21,884 lbs (9,926 kg)

Maximum Cruise Speed:                         146 kts (270 km/h)

HIGE Ceiling:                                                  15,989 ft (4,873 m)

HOGE Ceiling:                                                11,222 ft (3,420 m)

AEO Service Ceiling:                                   11,864 ft (3,616 m)



Cabin Length:                                                   10.8 ft (3.2 m)

Cabin Width:                                                     6.1 ft (1.8 m)

Cabin Height:                                                    4.4 ft (1.3 m)

Cabin Area:                                                         65 ft2 (6.0 m2)

Cabin Volume:                                                  299 ft3 (8.5 m3)

The Indian Navy has selected Sikorsky S-70B
The Indian Navy has selected Sikorsky S-70B



Marinized airframe structure for enhanced environmental protection

Multi-functional and durable cabin flooring

2 jettisonable cockpit doors

Single cabin sliding door

Recovery, Assist, Secure and Traverse (RAST) system structural provisions

Aircraft Ship Integrated Secure and Traverse (ASIST) system structural provisions

Automatic main rotor blade fold

Tail pylon fold

Foldable stabilator

Built-in work platforms, engine cowlings and hydraulic deck

External rescue hoist

Environmental control system



Advanced Flight Control System (AFCS) with 4 axis coupled flight director and SAR modes

Four 6×8 inch full color, multi-function mission and flight displays

Advanced Flight Management System

Cockpit voice/flight data recorder

Inertial navigation system

Secure HF & VHF/UHF communication

Satellite communication

Data link

NVG compatibility


Powerplant and fuel system

2 fully marinized T700GE401C engines

Auxiliary power unit

Fuel dump

Sealed tub design

2 external 120-gallon auxiliary fuel tanks


Rotor and drive system

Automatic main rotor blade fold

Dual redundant and isolated flight controls

Rotor brake

Blade de-ice

Rotor and drive system



2 45KVA main generators

35 KVA APU generator

Redundant power distribution

Full suite of interior and exterior NVG compatible lights


MH-60S Knight Hawk (Multimission maritime helicopter) (