India has taken a step closer towards buying a dozen AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters that it plans to use for VIP transport, including flying the Indian prime minister.

Reports in India say the government's cabinet committee on security has finally given the go-ahead for the procurement, which had reportedly been tied up for more than a year because there was some political bickering over the price tag.

AgustaWestland confirms that a contract has been signed for 12 medium-lift AW101s, with these to replace some of the Mil-series helicopters flown by the Indian air force.

There are "no more political hurdles to overcome", but "there are still a string of things that need to happen", such as down-payments, before the contract becomes effective. AgustaWestland says it anticipates that the contract will become effective soon, without elaborating.

 AW101 Portugal - AgustaWestland
© AgustaWestland
The AW101 is in use with several military customers, including the Portuguese air force

Once the contract becomes effective, the company will be able to deliver the AW101s in three or four years, it says.

Source: Flight International