EADS protests cancellation of Indian Army chopper tender: reports
18 Dec 2007
New Delhi: European aerospace giant EADS may have lodged a protest with the Indian government over the cancellation of a deal to sell 197 helicopters to the country's army, according to reports quoting unnamed Indian defence sources.
Eurocopter, a unit of European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), had won a tender for the sale, but this was withdrawn by New Delhi on December 6 after protests by the United States, and also after adverse observations were made by Indian watchdog authorities over alleged irregularities in the bidding process.
Earlier this month Indian defence ministry officials had said that the deal stood cancelled and that a new tender would be issued soon.
Reports now quote unnamed Indian defence ministry officials as saying that a visiting delegation of French military officials would discuss the issue with Indian counterparts later on this week. Apparently, the final signing of the $600-million deal was slated to be one of the highlights of a visit to India next month by French president, Nicolas Sarkozy.
According to sources, EADS may hold a news conference on the controversy on Tuesday.
According to published reports, Eurocopter allegedly used a local firm, Global Vectra Helicorp, to help broker the deal despite a ban in India on the use of middlemen in defence deals.
Eurocopter was also accused of presenting a civilian helicopter instead of a military version for statutory field trials by the Indian army. Apparently rival contender, US firm Bell Helicopter, too used a civilian version for the test trials.
Reports suggest that Indian military experts had visited Eurocopter plants in July 2005 to evaluate the military version of the helicopter and now the cancellation of the deal itself could come under the scanner.
EADS subsidiary Eurocopter and US helicopter giant Bell Helicopter were the two final short listed contenders for the Indian Army tender for 197 helicopters. Sixty of these were supposed to be delivered in a fly away condition, with the rest 137 to be manufactured at state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd in India.