Commercial bids validity expires for India’s 197 light utility helicopter tender

  • 12:00 AM, June 18, 2011
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The validity of the bids for the Indian defence forces’ tender for 197 light utility and attack helicopters expired this week and there is no word if the two bidders, Eurocopter and Kamov will be called to extend or put in fresh bids for the long delayed contract. Earlier, AgustaWestland was disqualified from the tender on grounds that its helicopter did not meet important conditions in the RFP. Industry sources told that the both Eurocopter AS 550 Fennec and Kamov 226 are well matched in terms of their respective helicopters meeting the conditions in the RFP. The latter was not considered a potential winner but the fact that it is still in the race proves otherwise and it could ultimately be a close contest between the high profile Eurocopter and the Kamov. While the Eurocopter is a military version of the popular civilian Fennec chopper, the KA Ka-226 is claimed to be a uniquely configured helicopter which can be adapted for several mission profiles and is particularly suited for hot weather conditions. It is over two years when the bids were submitted and extensive trials were held in India and the home countries of the two remaining bidders, France and Russia. Typically, bids are valid for two years under the Indian procurement system and bidders are free to hike price if asked to rebid. The MoD, if it is close to selecting a winner can call in the bidders and request them to hold the price while awaiting a decision, like it did in the case of the MMRCA fighter contract. As per the original procurement schedule, the trials were scheduled to be completed by December 2010 and the final procurement announcement was expected to happen in mid-2011. While the trials and their evaluation is completed, according to sources, the final decision is awaited. Of the 197 helicopters, 133 are to go to the Indian Army and the remaining 64 to the Indian Air Force. The procurement has been going on for the last five years with Eurocopter having won the deal the first time around, only to be told that the procurement had been cancelled since it had brought a civilian version to the tests. Golbal bids had been called in 2008 and a new RFP floated. The estimated $3 billion procurement has a 50% offsets clause. Some 60 helicopters are to be brought in a fly-away condition with the rest assembled in India.