Sikorsky ready to supply VVIP choppers to India

Hyderabad, Oct 24 (IANS) American aircraft firm Sikorsky Thursday said it was willing to provide VVIP helicopters to India as the government takes steps to scrap the existing deal with AgustaWestland.

Sikorsky, which had also bid for the Rs.3,600 crore contract to supply 12 VVIP helicopters to the Indian Air Force, is ready to supply the helicopters if the Indian government calls it to do so.

"If we are called upon as a sequel to the process, we will be more than willing to provide the solutions, more so when we are building the cabins in India," said Sikorsky's regional executive (India & South Asia) Air Vice Marshal (retd) Arvind Walia.

He was talking to reporters on the sidelines of an event to rollout first fully indigenous S-92 chopper cabin produced together by Tata Advanced Systems Limited and Sikorsky at Adibatla near here.

Sikorsky had offered its S-92 helicopters to the Air Force but the deal was won by Italian helicopter major AgustaWestland's AW-101.

Sikorsky's willingness to supply the choppers comes amid reports that the Indian government issued show cause notice for cancelling the contract after AgustaWestland's bid to seek arbitration.

Asked about Indian Navy's much-delayed tender for multirole helicopters for which Sikorsky is also in race, Walia said the company had satisfied all requirements of valuations and also extended the commercial proposal till Dec 31 as required by the defence ministry.

"We have gone through this process for last five years. I have no doubts the process is moving forward. I look forward to hearing the opening of commercial bid," he said and claimed that there are no issues from Sikorsky perspective.

European NH-90 and Sikorsky S-70 Bravo are in the race for 16 multirole helicopters. The contract is estimated to be worth $1 billion.

The tender for choppers to carry out anti-submarine warfare and surveillance roles was delayed for various reasons. The defence ministry in July directed both the firms in the fray to extend the validity of their proposals for six more months.

The Indian Navy is also planning to issue a bid for procuring more than 120 multirole choppers expected to be worth around Rs.35,000 crore. All major chopper manufacturers including Sikorsky are likely to take part in the world's biggest tender for choppers.

Walia said Sikorsky was also looking forward to address the defence requirements of India.

"As and when government of India decides, we will be more than willing to come forward and address the requirements be it for defence applications or for commercial market," he said.

He pointed out that Sikorsky was contributing, although in a small manner, to India's stated objective of self-reliance.

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