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Eurocopter in final negotiations for Indian Army contract news
08 October 2007
Paris: Officials of European aerospace and defence major EADS have indicated to the media that India is all set to order 197 ''Fennec'' helicopters for use of the Indian Army, and that negotiations had reached the last stages. They have also indicated that there may be an agreement for the supply of the ''AS 550 Fennec'' helicopters for Indian Navy as well.

"We are in final phase of having a deal to supply 197 (Fennec) light helicopters for the Indian Army. The contract is expected to be signed by the end of the year," EADS senior vice-president for South Asia, Allain Letanoux, told Indian journalists here. Letanoux said that the deal would also involve transfer of technology.

Reports early on in the year had said that the deal might be worth as much as $500-600 million.

According to these reports, while 60 helicopters would be manufactured in France to be supplied as outright purchase, the remaining 137 would be built jointly with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

According to EADS officials, the Fennec helicopter holds an altitude record in mountainous regions and is the only helicopter of its kind to successfully land atop the Mount Everest, which according to EADS officials was a feat that it had achieved recently.

The Indian Army has already conducted a series of trials with the helicopter under demanding conditions in Rajasthan, Punjab and Kashmir and the Siachen areas. Siachen, for long, has been the world''s highest battlefield.

The new machines are expected to replace the vintage 1970s generation Chetak and Cheetah helicopters of the Indian Army''s Army Aviation Corps (AAC) and bring it in line with current and future rapid mobility battlefield requirements.

The helicopters are capable of multi-mission profile, performing day and night military operations including attack, training, cargo, transport and medical evacuation. A Fennec chopper can transport 25 commandos to altitudes of 4,000 metres.

EADS division Eurocopter had been competing with America''s Bell Helicopters and Russia''s Kamov for the contract.

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Eurocopter in final negotiations for Indian Army contract