Light Helicopter Project Faces Uncertain Future

By admin • May 19th, 2010

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India Defence Online, New Delhi — The Indian Defence Ministry is expected to yet again cancel the tender for acquiring 197 reconnaissance and surveillance helicopters for the Indian Army, due to certain inconsistencies in the recent trials.

Although the cancellation of the tender for 197 helicopters is not confirmed, it seems the Indian Defence Ministry has noted certain shortcomings in the trials of the choppers. The Indian Defence Ministry had earlier cancelled the same tender in December 2007 and re-issued a fresh one in July 2008. The Indian Defence Ministry had earlier cited that the reason for the cancellation of the tender in 2007 was due to the lack of adherence of the bidders to the formulated guidelines.

In the earlier cancellation of the tender, the Indian Defence Ministry had cited the deviations that occurred from its requirements and guidelines. The tenders were sent to Russian Rosoboronexport (ROE) for Kamovs, Bell and Sikorsky from US, European consortium’s EADS’ Eurocopter and Anglo-Italian Agusta Westland, but only Eurocopter, ROE and Augusta Westland qualified for trials.

The helicopter model offered by Eurocopter was unable to perform high altitude hover-out-of-ground-effect (HOGE). The problem with ROE’s Kamov was that the engine to be fitted on Kamov 226T will be Arrius 2G1 which is not yet certified. While Agusta Westland was facing serious problems due to some misunderstanding over some classification issue with the Defence Ministry.

The $750 million deal for the 197 helicopters for the defence forces aims to replace the aging 1970s vintage Chetak and Cheetah helicopters and will be for high altitude, surveillance and logistics. The successful bidder will provide 60 helicopters in a flyaway condition, while the remaining 137 aircraft will be licence-produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Under the offsets clause, the winning bidder must also invest at least 30% of the contracted cost in India.

source: India Defence Online

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