Indian helicopter procurements have come to a stop after the Defense Ministry reportedly cancelled another light utility helicopter (LUH) global tender intended for the Navy.
The tender called for 56 naval helicopters that were expected to be inducted by 2016. According to reports, competitors Airbus Helicopters and AgustaWestland, have been informed of MoD’s decision to cancel the tender.
In August, the Defense Acquisitions Council (DAC) headed by Defense Minister Arun Jaitley retracted a tender to procure 197 light choppers worth $1.5 billion for the army and air force which had been put on hold due to an ongoing bribery investigation.
Another deal, for the purchase of 90 multi-role helicopters worth an estimated $2.5 billion too could be in trouble. A first order of 16 helicopters, for which NH Industries and Sikorksy are bidding, has not gone past the technical evaluation stage.
However, a month later, the Indian MoD called on Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to fill the gap. The DAC has reportedly approved a proposal to allow HAL to manufacture 440 light utility helicopters to be supplied to the Army, Navy and Air Force. The HAL helicopter has not even been fully developed.
According to unconfirmed reports, HAL is rushing to finish development of the prototype which it plans to unveil in time for the Aero India show scheduled to take place in February 2015.
While India has more or less put its foreign helicopter procurements on hold, Russian Mi-17-V5 helicopters were selected to transport persons of special importance, including the president and prime minister. The helicopters will fill the VVIP helicopter requirement originally awarded to AgustaWestland which has since been cancelled.