The procurement of 16 multi-role helicopters for Indian Navy is deferred by Indian government until the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) completes its probe in the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal, reported the pioneer.
Finmeccanica, parent company of AgustaWestland is one of the two companies in the fray. AgustaWestland is facing charges of kickbacks in the VVIP helicopter deal for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The two contenders in the competition are the European NH-90 helicopters, which have Finmeccanica as a partner, and the American Sikorsky-70B choppers.
The Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by defense minister Arun Jaitley on July 19, deferred the MRH helicopter project while clearing other military procurement proposals.
The contract is crucial for the Navy since it was to be followed by a bigger one for 123 helicopters, with anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities as well as customized for amphibious assaults and commando operations, at a cost of over $3 billion.
"The Navy had sought the way forward in the MRH helicopter project, which also included deviations being sought by the two companies in their offsets proposals, but the DAC has kept the entire matter pending for now," an unidentified source told the pioneer.
Indian Navy lacks helicopters meant to detect, track and attack enemy submarines. The navy is on track to induct four to five warships every year over the next decade.
The DAC has cleared proposal to procure eight training simulators of the P-8I ant-submarine warfare aircraft for the Navy worth $2 billion. The DAC also cleared $1.4 billion tender for construction of five fleet support ships for the navy and $1.1 billion for procuring 32 Dhruv advance light helicopters from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the Coast Guard and Navy.