The tender was opened recently in the presence of representatives of both the companies, and according to reliable sources, the quote by the US company was “surprisingly much lower” in both the initial and lifecycle costs.
Russia – and the erstwhile Soviet Union – has been the biggest supplier of aircraft and defence equipment to India , but all these so far have been acquired on the basis of government-to-government agreements.
With the loss of the heavy-lift tender, Russia has lost both the competitive tenders against the US in India in which it participated, the other being that of combat helicopters. In that, Russia withdrew its Mi-28, and Boeing's Apache AH 64D won on both technical and financial merit. Earlier, the Russian Mig 35 lost against the French Rafale in the six-corner combat jet competition on technical grounds for 126 aircraft for the IAF.
IAF had issued tenders, officially called request for Proposals (RfPs), after evaluating globally available machines for 22 combat and 15 heavy lift helicopters.
Notably, IAF has been using the Mi 26 for a quarter century now, and there appeared to be a leaning towards this machine because of familiarity and the fact that it can carry more weight than the Chinook. But Russia does not make this helicopter any more, and even with refurbished machines perhaps, its projected costs are higher.
The Chinook is a much more versatile machine, and the only helicopter in the world that can also float on water for launching and recovering inflatable boats with commandoes. In terms of operational capability, while the Mi 26 can carry more weight, it is nowhere near the American machine.
Chinook will be useful not only in ferrying under-slung artillery guns and jeeps but also be useful for integrated day and night commando operations for which it is well-equipped,” Lt Gen Pawar observed adding that the aircraft has also proved extremely useful in disaster relief operations.