The US has offered to lease out 12 of its Coast Guard's twin-engine helicopters to India which is looking to strengthen its coastal security following the Mumbai terror attacks. "As the acquisition process will take time, we (India) want to have 12 twin-engine helicopters on lease for the Coast Guard. The US has offered to lease out its Coast Guard helicopters to us," a senior Defence Ministry official said in New Delhi on Monday. However, India has also got some offers from within the country. But it has to be seen if these civilian helicopters would meet the Coast Guard's military needs, the official said.
Under the fast-track acquisition process, the Coast Guard was asked by the government to purchase 12 Dornier transport aircraft for medium-range surveillance activities and the proposal has been approved already. "The purchase of 12 Dorniers for the Coast Guard has been approved and government-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited will supply five Dorniers by this year end," the official said, when asked about the fast-track acquisition process in the wake of the 26/11 attacks.
The 12 twin-engine helicopters to be leased were meant to augment the Dornier fleet for surveillance and reconnaissance activities.In all, India is looking to purchase about a dozen items, mostly ships and aircraft, for its Coast Guard and Navy, which has been designated this February as the overall in-charge for matters concerning the security of the 7,500-km-long coast.
"About 12 Request for Proposal (RFP) are to be issued under fast track acquisition process. Six or seven are ready and after they are issued, the acquisition will begin in six or seven months," he said. The Navy, which would get its own 1000-man Sagar Prahari Bal to protect its own installations along the coast, was in need of 80 boats for the new force. "Global tenders will be issued and in four or five months the process would be completed," the official said. India will be issuing RFPS in a month for coastal radars, which would be fitted on lighthouses and at Coast Guard installations all along the coastline, the official said, adding Aerostat radars were not under consideration of theNavy as yet.