The Indian ministry of defence has cleared the procurement of attack and heavy-lift helicopters for the nation’s air force, while also cancelling a decade-long effort to acquire 197 reconnaissance and surveillance (RSH) rotorcraft.
The attack and heavy-lift procurement is cumulatively worth an estimated $2 billion, while the abandoned RSH buy was worth $1 billion.
In a decision taken on 29 August, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) – led by defence minister Arun Jaitley – cleared the purchase of 22 Boeing AH-64E Apache and 15 CH-47F Chinook helicopters.
The decision still requires final ratification from the government’s Cabinet Committee on Security, however.
Boeing earlier told Flightglobal it expects additional orders for the Apache attack helicopter, and is “bullish on finalising the contracts by the end of 2014” for both types.
Meanwhile, the DAC also decided to close the drawn-out procurement of 197 light helicopters for both the Indian army (133) and Indian air force (64). The process had been under way since 2003.
The two finalists – Airbus Helicopters’ AS550 C3 Fennec and Russian Helicopters’ Kamov Ka-226T – had been waiting for a decision on the procurement for almost six years.
The helicopters will now be acquired under the “buy and make (Indian)” category – as per India’s defence procurement policy – and a fresh request for information is expected to be issued. This would call for the supply of a certain number of helicopters in flyaway condition under the “buy” section, followed by licenced production in India under the “make”.
As part of its offer for the cancelled tender, Airbus Helicopters had said if the “Fennec is selected, deliveries will commence in 12 months, with a final assembly line being setup in India”.
India’s military currently operates the Cheetah (Aérospatiale SA-315 B Lama) and Chetak (SA-316 Aérospatiale Alouette III) light helicopters, which are built under licence by Hindustan Aeronautics in Bengaluru. The last of Cheetahs will now be retired as late as 2030.