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India’s Light Utility Helicopter Program Faces Delays

Feb. 5, 2013 - 09:32AM   |  
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BANGALORE, India — India’s $2 billion light utility helicopter (LUH) program, which has been in the procurement stage since 2009, faces delays due to “technical reasons,” India’s Air Force chief said.

Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne told Defense News that the “project is presently delayed due to some technical reasons.” Browne however added, “We are pursuing the Buy (Global) route to cater for the immediate shortages.”

Kamov of Russia and Eurocopter of France are competing to sell 197 LUHs to India.

The flight trials of the competing helicopters were completed last year and all sides are waiting on a selection of the final vendor.

Browne did not give details on the technical problems, but Indian Air Force sources said there are issues with thrust of the engines of both the competitors.

In 2009, bids were sent to Eurocopter, Kamov and Italy’s AgustaWestland. AgustaWestland was eliminated before the flight trials on technical grounds.

The 2009 LUH tender was itself a repeat of an earlier tender. The first time around, the program was canceled after Bell Helicopters of the U.S. complained of a lack of transparency in the procurement program.

Eurocopter emerged as the winner in the competition in 2007; the competition was canceled in 2008.

The Indian Air Force and Indian Army need the LUHs to replace aging Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, which are being used to ferry troops and rations to battlefield locations on higher reaches.

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