India completes VIP, medium lift helo trials

London
Source: Flightglobal.com
This story is sourced from Flightglobal.com

India's Air Force is likely to select a new medium-lift and VIP transport helicopter around mid-2008 after successfully completing trials with the two main contenders this month.

Vying for the contract are the AgustaWestland AW101 and Sikorsky S-92. The successful bidder is expected to begin the delivery of eight 12-seater VIP helicopters and four 30-passenger medium-lift helicopters from around early 2010. Russia's Kamov was eliminated from the competition in 2006.

Requirements include a rotorcraft with three engines, a speed of up to 108kt (200km/h), an ability to climb over 17,000ft (5,200m), night and bad weather capabilities, modern sensors and jammers, and protection against missile threats and nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. The service did not release any information on how trials went.

The VIP helicopters, which will be used by senior government officials, will also be supplied with equipment capable of providing encrypted communications.

The aircraft will replace Russia-made Mi-8 helicopters, which were converted to VIP transport configuration in the late 1980s, and are expected to remain in service for at least 30 years. The contract, which could be worth around $250 million, should be signed in early 2009.