RSH Chopper deal at final stage, vendors jittery
By SP's Special Correspondent
February 21, 2012
: With India's effort to acquire 197 brand new light reconnaisance and surveillance helicopters (RSH) reaching its final stage, the two final contenders are anxious for the final result. While Eurocopter has written a letter to Indian Army chief General VK Singh requesting to know why a decision is still pending on the long-drawn out acquisition process, Rosoboronexport has announced that it is confident of bagging the deal that could exceed $1-billion. Eurocopter, which has fielded the AS 550 C3 Fennec, says in its letter, "We take this opportunity to express our concern regarding the time frame for the very important programme, for which the RFP was issued in July 2008. The technical evaluation process has now taken over 38 months and has not yet been concluded due to reasons which are unknown to us."
Eurocopter's anxiety is understandable.
In 2007, the company suffered a major shock when the MoD pulled the plug on the first iteration of the same deal following allegations of discrepancies in platform fielded. At the time, the AS 550 C3 was widely considered to be a frontrunner against its then contender, a variant of the Bell 407. Disappointed but not rebuffed by the abort, the company fielded the same platform when the contract was retendered the following year. But delays have expectedly raised questions about where things stand, especially since the far younger effort to acquire attack helicopters has already identified a winner.
On the other hand, Rosoboronexport earlier this month issued a press release to Russian media that the Ka-226T Sergei helicopter would soon beat out the Eurocopter contender to win the Indian deal. The acquisition is indeed in its final stages, with the Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) approving the final report from the Army and MoD.