In 2007, the defense ministry canceled a previous deal with Eurocopter for light utility helos following allegations that bidders had failed to follow competition guidelines. A new request for proposals was issued in 2008, and flight tests of the two competing helos were completed in December 2010.
The Indian army and IAF need the light helicopters to replace their aging fleet of vintage Cheetah and Chetak aircraft, which are critical for providing supplies to troops deployed to Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest battlefield, and other high-altitude areas.
Eurocopter has offered to establish a production facility in India if the company wins the contract.
“If we win the contract it makes sense to set up a production facility here [in India], as these helos will be flown for the next 20 to 40 years and it’s important for the country to maintain them,” Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling said during the recent Aero India show.
AS 350 photo: AgustaWestland