New Delhi: The Indian Army has completed the field trials of the short-listed Bell-407 and Eurocopter helicopters and the defence ministry has accepted its recommendations on the two machines, parliament was informed Thursday last week.
"The government has received a trial report of Bell-407 and Eurocopter AS 350 B3 helicopter to be incorporated in the Indian Army," defence minister AK Antony said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.
"The trials have been completed and the general staff evaluation of the trial report approved by the Indian Army has been accepted by the ministry of defence," he added.
There was nothing to indicate in the reply as to what the Army's preferences were with respect to the two helicopters.
The Army has set out a requirement for 197 helicopters, which are intended to replace it's ageing fleet of Chetaks and Cheetahs, some of which were inducted more than three decades ago.
The army, which had issued its request for information (RFI) in 1999, had short-listed the Bell-407 and the Eurocopter in its request for proposal.
The two machines underwent a series of extensive trials in the Siachen glacier, Punjab and the deserts of Rajasthan, in order to test them out in various climatic and service conditions.
According to reports, the deal envisages an outright purchase of 60 helicopters with the remaining 137 being license-manufactured by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
Reports emerged on Monday suggesting that the contract may have been awarded to Eurocopter, though there has been no official word on the issue as yet.