January 20, 2012

S.Korean company objects to India's basic trainer bidding process

South Korea's aerospace company has raised objections to what it called an unfair bidding process used for India's military basic trainer acquisition program, a source here said on Wednesday, according to a story reported by Korean news agency Yonhap.

Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI) source said that a plan by the Indian Air Force to take over 75 propeller-driven trainers was unfair because the leading contender failed to submit a critical maintenance transfer of technology (MTOT) cost assessment.

The insider, who declined to be identified, said that Switzerland's Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. did not submit a MTOT cost assessment for its PC-7 turbo trainer in the final bid sent to New Delhi for review, according to the news agency.

The PC-7 tandem two-seat trainer is one of three aircraft that has made the short list of planes being examined by India. KAI's KT-1 and U.S.-based Hawker Beechcraft Corp.'s T-6 also made the list from the original seven contenders that showed interest in the program.

The Indian defense ministry has announced plans for the basic trainer program in December 2009.

KAI said that the Swiss company submitted the lowest bid, so it had the lead over its rivals. It said the KT-1 came in second in terms of the price with the U.S. aircraft coming in third, Yonhap reported in its story.
"One of our employees confirmed that Pilatus did not give the MTOT cost assessment, which is a critical lapse since these planes must be operated for at least 30 years," the company based in Sacheon, 430 kilometers southeast of Seoul, said.

It said such a mistake should disqualify the Swiss company from the bid, and it sent several formal letters pointing this out, although it got no response.

KAI, meanwhile, also pointed out that the PC-7 plane's platform was first developed in the 1970s, while the KT-1 is effectively brand new and has the latest equipment to train military pilots, even though it is a bit more expensive.

The KT-1 started entering service in 2000 and is currently in operation for the air forces of South Korea and Indonesia and is being built in Turkey. There are more than 170 of the planes in use at present.

Times of India

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