Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fate Of 197 Copter Bid To Be Decided Monday?

On October 29, the Indian MoD's Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) will deliberate over how to proceed on the reconnaissance and surveillance helicopter (RSH) competition, which looks to contract for 197 light helicopters (133 for the Army and 64 for the IAF).

As with all Indian military acquisitions, there have been allegations and complaints during the final leg of the evaluation process, seen to have delayed it thus far. Earlier this year, Eurocopter (which unconfirmed reports suggest emerged on top in field evaluation tests with the AS550 C3 Fennec -- and was in fact the winner in the programme's first abortive effort) had even written to then Indian Army chief Gen VK Singh asking about the delay in a decision.

Livefist can confirm that both the Fennec and its competitor, the Russian Kamov Ka-226T have technical deviations at various levels, though the precise details of those deviations remain various, with several reports suggesting specific parameters. What is sure is that a Technical Oversight Committee has studied the deviations and made certain recommendations to the MoD. It is understood that decisions on those recommendations will take place at the DAC meeting on Monday.

Yet another, deeply unsavoury tinge to the competition has come in via investigations into a competitor that was eliminated from the reckoning in 2010 -- AgustaWestland. Italian investigators have discovered documents which detail a purported offer from an Indian Army officer to rig  trials in the competition to favour a vendor in exchange for percentage commissions (see previous post below). The memorandum by an AgustaWestland consultant details information purportedly provided by the Indian Army officer, presumably as a "taste" as an enticement to future services -- information that pertains to alleged deviations in the competing helicopters. This document, now part of a dossier submitted in an Italian court and part of investigations into the company's dealings, notes the following as information supplied by the Indian Army officer:
The Indian MoD has acknowledged reports on this (and other) documents and yesterday announced that it had asked the Italian government to act quickly to supply all information pertaining to the Indian deals, including the names of Indian nationals that have cropped up in some of the documents.

The question now is this: what will the DAC decide on Monday? It's a precarious time, and these are helicopters the Indian Army and IAF desperately need for high-altitude operations. Will this be a routine meeting to move ahead with the deal, or is the entire process now in danger? For the second time.


Anonymous said...

To avoid quarell between army,air force,eurocopter,kamov lets give airforce kamov & army fennec or vice versa. So everyone will be happy.

Anonymous said...

The heavy lift chopper competition is won by Chinook.

Anonymous said...

Italian what?

Anonymous said...

Folks ,

What surprises me is that every one recognizes the critical need for these light copters except our Air Force Chief and other heavyweight flyboys.Why cant his team choose a chopper ( from the limited options ) and tell the PM /Sonia / Rahul / St. Anthony to buy or threaten to stop operations altogether - and go public if necessary. The country cannot fight its wars with RFI / RFP and with policy documents. May sound like a rant but the chiefs are no better than low level MLA's.

sents said...

Even if there is a scam, no need to restart the process once again.
You know where it went wrong and just reevaluate from that stage. Announcing a fresh competition is just wasting time. Also that corrupt officer should be punished within 3 months, obviously he know where he screwed the process.

Anonymous said...

The very timing of the press report was very suspect and the document which was posted was highly questionable in intent . The press release from the AW has correctly put things in perspective.Hopefully the DAC will take a decision on the subject and conclude the acuisition process which has been in the pipeline for last 12 years .

Anonymous said...

We are not trying to please anyone. The best copter wins and takes the deal.