New Delhi: The Indian government would appear to be ready to induct 12 helicopters for its VVIP squadron. Media reports suggest that the multi-million dollar deal may well be signed sometime in the course of the year itself, with deliveries being made over the course of the next three years.
The contenders in the fray would appear to be Agusta Westland's EH-101, Sikorsky's H-92, Eurocopter's Cougar and the Russian Mi-17. According to officials quoted in the reports, the helicopters would have to be powered by either two or three-engines and also be equipped with advanced avionics and night-flying capabilities.
The advanced avionics would include self-protection suites and electronic counter-measures geared to handle a variety of threats, such as those from hostile missiles.
The Indian Air Force's VVIP squadron already flies five mid-size Embraer 135BJ Legacy jets, and also three wide-bodied Boeing jets.
The new helicopters are intended to replace the aging Mi-8s being operated by the VIP Squadron.