The Finmeccanica-owned helicopter manufacturer has signed a memorandum of understanding with Indian conglomerate Tata Sons to establish a joint venture company that will be responsible for AW119 final assembly, completion and delivery to customers worldwide. AgustaWestland will retain responsibility for marketing and sales.
The new facility's first helicopter delivery is scheduled for 2011, with production forecast to rise to 30 units a year.
AgustaWestland envisages that the joint venture company will supply the Indian armed forces' Reconnaissance and Surveillance Helicopter programme. In July 2008 India issued a request for proposals for 197 military light utility helicopters, of which 133 would be deployed by the army and 64 by the air force.
The request was sent to AgustaWestland, Bell Helicopter, Eurocopter, Kamov and Sikorsky. The new helicopters will replace 1970s-vintage Hindustan Aeronautics Chetak and Cheetah helicopters.