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November 5, 2014

Finmeccanica out, US’s Sikorsky joins Navy copter acquisition race

 The infamous VVIP helicopter scandal has claimed another victim. The defence ministry has ejected the European NH-90 chopper, linked to Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica, out of the race to supply 16 multirole helicopters to the Navy The commercial bid of the other contender in fray, American Sikorsky-70B choppers, will now be opened this month after a long delay. "Both NH-90 and Sikorsky-70B choppers had cleared the technical trials held a couple of years ago," said a MoD source.

"But their commercial bids were not opened due to various controversies. Now, the Sikorsky bid will undergo evaluation and final price negotiations will follow. The defence procurement policy permits single-vendor situation if the bids were earlier submitted in a competitive manner," he added.

The long-pending acquisition of the 16 helicopters is critical for the Navy since it is fast running out of choppers that can detect, track and kill enemy submarines at a time when the Chinese navy has stepped up its forays in the Indian Ocean region.



The Navy is also keen to kick-start a much bigger project for manufacturing 124 multi-role helicopters, armed with anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and early-warning capabilities as well as customized for amphibious commando operations, in an indigenous project worth around $3 billion.


Indian Navy choppers fly past during a naval show. The long-pending acquisition of the 16 helicopters is critical for the Navy since it is fast running out of choppers that can detect, track and kill enemy submarines. 
The procurement process for the 16 new helicopters, which was initiated several years ago, had been kept on hold since the CBI began investigating the now-scrapped 556 million euro contract for the 12 VVIP AW-101 helicopters of AgustaWestland, the UK-based subsidiary of Finmeccanica.

With the Modi government implementing "a partial ban" on Finmeccanica, under which ongoing contracts will continue but there will be no fresh deals, the European NH-90 chopper has now been eliminated from the naval chopper procurement case. 
(timesofindia)


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