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.
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.
early on in the year had said that the deal might be worth as much as $500-600
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).
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.
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.
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.
division Eurocopter had been competing with America''s Bell Helicopters and Russia''s
Kamov for the contract.