India cancels attack helicopter programme
India has retracted the tenders issued last May for the purchase of 22 attack helicopters for the Indian Air Force (IAF), the Defence Ministry said on Tuesday.
The government would now go in for new tendering process to procure the helicopters meant for strengthening the IAF's combat and surveillance capabilities.
"The Request for Proposals (RFP) for the 22 attack helicopters have been retracted and cancelled, as the three offers received from foreign defence companies did not meet the Staff Qualitative Requirements set by the government. We will issue fresh RFP for the platform soon," a source told a news agency.
With this, the IAF's plans to operationalise the 22 attack helicopters beginning 2010 would be hit considerably and could be delayed beyond 2012, sources said.
The Defence Ministry had sent the RFP to AgustaWestland, Boeing, Eurocopter, Kazan and Bell Helicopter. But the tendering process was hit when the two US companies, Bell and Boeing, refused to submit their bids.
Finally, the government received replies from only three companies for the 2.5 tonne twin-engine helicopter.
The withdrawal by Bell and Boeing from the bids had severely hit India's efforts to get six global companies to participate in the RFP for the 22 attack helicopters.
While Boeing, which offered its AH-64 Apache, had refused to submit its bids after the government did not heed its request for an eight-week extension to the last August deadline to submit their proposal meeting all the qualitative requirements of the IAF.
Bell, on its behalf, withdrew its participation realising that its AH-1Z Cobra was available for exports only through the Foreign Military Sales route of the US Administration.
But India had insisted that it would procure the helicopter directly from the company and not through the government route.
Other companies' offering helicopters were Italian-British AgustaWestland's AW-129, European consortium EADS Eurocopter's Tiger, Russian Kamov's Ka-50 and Mil's Mi-28.
Apparently, only Eurocopter, AgustaWestland and Kamov submitted their bids when it finally closed last August, Defence Ministry sources said.
The 22 attack helicopters were to be bought at a cost of USD 25 million per platform, including weapons.
The earlier RFP had stipulated that two helicopters should be supplied within 24 months of signing the contract, with final delivery in 36 months.
The contract for the attack helicopters was to take effect by 2010 and be completed by May 2011, and the vendor was expected to provide a 30 percent offset working out to USD 165 million of the total cost of USD 550 million.
The helicopter it would purchase, the government had said, should be highly agile with advanced anti-armour capability, and include provision for a turret gun of 20mm or higher calibre and be able to fire 70mm rockets at a range of 1.2 kilometres.
IAF also wanted the helicopter to be able to employ air-to-ground, fire-and-forget missiles with a range of at least seven km, fitted with state-of-the-art electronic warfare protection suite and carry a radar warning receiver capable of intercepting, identifying and prioritising multiple airborne and ground-based radio frequency emitters.
Other requirements include all-weather, all-terrain, day-and-night operations capabilities.
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