Lockheed Martin Corp. said it may offer India a mixed helicopter offering as it competes for an order for more than $2 billion worth of maritime aircraft.
Lockheed, based in Bethesda, Maryland, and United Technologies Corp.’s Sikorsky are trying to tempt India with an offering comprised of the more capable MH-60R helicopter to fight against ships coupled with the basic MH-60S to help lower costs, said George Barton, vice president for business development at Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors. India is poised to formally kick off the competition for at least 75 naval helicopters.
The 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai and growing trade have driven India to put increased focus on controlling sea-lanes approaching the country. The heightened concern about threats from the sea is shared by Middle East and southeast Asian states, providing a sales opportunity for defense contractors at a time other markets are contracting.
“The maritime helicopter market is unique in that countries have to protect the sea-lines of communications,” Barton said in an interview at the Euronaval maritime conference at Le Bourget on the northern outskirts of Paris.
Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky, who developed the MH-60R for the U.S. Navy and sold the system to Australia last year, see Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, as well as Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand among potential buyers, Barton said. Thailand last year already agreed to buy the MH-60S.
The next big competition for the MH-60R will be in Denmark. The country is expected to take a decision on who will provide nine maritime helicopters before year-end, Barton said. The competition pits the MH-60R against the AgustaWestland AW159 being developed by Finmeccanica SpA’s helicopter arm for the U.K. The two competitors also are doing battle in South Korea, where a decision to provide eight helicopters is likely next year.