The Indian army plans to acquire up to 197 Bell 407 or Eurocopter AS550 Fennec multirole helicopters to replace its ageing Cheetahs and Cheetaks after completing hot-weather trials in July. A contract award is expected late this year, with aircraft deliveries to be spread over a 10-year period and Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) to assemble at least 100 of the aircraft.

Eurocopter this month selected HAL to supply mechanical and composite aerostructures for its Fennec and Ecureuil helicopters from late 2005 or early 2006, re-establishing a relationship under which about 600 were licence-produced in India from the 1970s.

The companies are also discussing possible co-operation on the development of a 10-12t helicopter for the Indian air force and navy using technology borrowed from the AS532C Cougar.

Source: Flight International