Eurocopter airs frustration at Indian competition delay

Singapore
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Eurocopter has sent a letter to the Indian army to express concern about delays in its acquisition of 197 light utility helicopters.

The company's AS550 C3 Fennec and the Kamov Ka-226 are competing for the contract, a request for proposals for which was originally issued in 2008.

"The programme has been delayed for a long time now, and the existing fleet of [Hindustan Aernautics] Cheetah and Cheetak are getting very old and need very quick replacement; hence the letter to express our concern," said Eurocopter in response to a Flightglobal query.

The Eurocopter letter was widely reported in Indian media, with one outlet quoting: "The technical evaluation process has now taken over 38 months and has not yet been concluded due to reasons which are unknown to us."

At the Aero India air show in Bangalore in February 2011, Eurocopter said the AS550 C3 had completed field trials carrying the full range of equipment required for reconnaissance and surveillance missions by the Indian armed forces.

Eurocopter had been poised to win the light utility helicopter competition in 2007, but the tender was abruptly scrapped owing to faults in India's selection process.