Eurocopter opts out of race to supply attack helicopters

Eurocopter has conveyed to the Defence Ministry that its Tiger attack helicopters are undergoing upgrades and would not be able to participate in the field trials, which the IAF is planning to hold in mid-2010, sources told PTI here.
The company apprised the Ministry of its decision on October 20 -- the last date for submitting the response to the global tender released in May this year, they added.
With the exit of Eurocopter, only Boeing with its AH-64D Apache, Agusta Westland with its AW-149 and Russian helicopter manufacturer Mil are left behind in the race, sources said.
IAF's plans to acquire the combat choppers for replacing and augmenting its fleet of Russian-built attack helicopters have been marred by exits and the tender has already been issued twice.
In the first tender issued in June last year, American companies Bell and Boeing had backed out of the race. Boeing was reportedly not comfortable with the 50 per cent offsets commitments required in the tender and Bell did not participate as its choppers were available only through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route.

The tender demanded the choppers to be sold through the Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) route by participating American companies and not through the US government.
After the cancellation of the first tender, a fresh Request for Proposal was re-issued in May this year with reduced offset requirements and option of selling the chopper through both FMS and DCS routes, Bell again backed out as its chopper was still under evaluation by the US Marine Corps in July.
Meanwhile, Boeing and Russian Mil have submitted their responses for the 15 heavy-lift chopper tender of the IAF, officials said.
Boeing is offering its Chinook tandem-rotor choppers and the Russians are in fray with their world's largest helicopter Mi-26.
"Boeing believes the Chinook helicopters are the most capable and cost-effective rotorcraft to meet India's transport requirements," Boeing Integrated Defense Systems Vice President and India-head Vivek Lall said after submitting the company's response to RFP.
India had procured a fleet of six Mi-26 choppers in the 80s but only four of them are left now. The IAF plans to use these choppers for ferrying troops and cargo to places where aircraft can not land and for carrying out relief and rescue operations in the case of any emergency.

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